Keeping the blades turning

Energizing a turbine at the Cedar Point Wind Power Farm.

Just like a car needs oil changes or filter replacements for peak performance, wind turbines in a wind farm also require periodic servicing and regular tune-ups. What maintenance activities happen at a wind project on a daily basis?  As wind farms typically include turbines in the ‘double digits,’ it is similar to maintaining a fleet of vehicles – there will always be tires to change and ‘TLC’ to be applied to keep the vehicles running at their top performance.

A wind turbine is made up of three major components:

  • a tower that can be as tall as 120 metres high
  • three blades that can span 70 metres in length
  • a nacelle, which is composed of an outer case, generator and drive train 

Maintenance schedules can vary depending on the turbine technology and manufacturer and operating hours are a key measure in determining service schedules.  Scheduled maintenance involves a blade tip to foundation inspection – along with filter and oil changes (if required).

Visual inspections of the exterior and interior workings of the tower, blades and nacelle include: testing and troubleshooting electrical, mechanical and hydraulic components and systems, as well as using computers to diagnose electrical malfunctions as part of the maintenance strategy.  When issues do happen, the response must be timely.

At the Adelaide Wind Power Facility located near Strathroy, Ontario, the wind farm’s turbine and electrical systems are monitored electronically from a central office, 24 hours a day. When a problem is detected, the wind turbine technicians utilize these systems and make an assessment of the turbine and wind farm conditions to determine the nature of the repair.  Turbine technology is very reliable, averaging 98% availability annually.

Safety is a critical component of all maintenance work, especially in the environment that requires working at heights. Wind turbine technicians require the use of several pieces of personal protective equipment, including a full body harness with accessories for fall prevention.   

Well planned and executed wind farm monitoring and maintenance is the industry standard for reducing unexpected outages and breakdowns and reducing maintenance costs. Just like your car, preventative measures will greatly extend the life of the wind asset for years to come.

This story contains forward-looking information. Please see legal advisories for more information.

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