Video plant tour: The heart of a wind turbine

The slow and graceful rotation of a wind turbine hides the hard work and huge stresses on the mechanical components and structure. The speed-increasing gearbox handles all the torque in constantly changing conditions. See how they're built.

12/11/2009

Flash is required!

When you watch a wind turbine turn gracefully in the distance, here are some things to think about. The nacelle is probably 450 ft. off the ground and the diameter of the blades is around 300 ft. When those blades are turning at 20 to 25 rpm, you can imagine the torque on the shaft. Moreover, the output of one of those turbines is probably at least 1.5 to 2 MW, and may be more. In spite of their delicate appearance, this is heavy-duty machinery.

The two main pieces of equipment inside the nacelle are the speed-increasing gearbox and the generator. The gearbox takes that slow blade rotation and kicks it up to around 1,800 rpm to drive the generator. Since the output is equivalent to a few thousand horsepower, these are no small gearboxes. To make matters worse, given the support structure, weight is a major concern. While not quite at the level of aircraft applications, wind turbines do have to economize as much as practical. This means the mechanical equipment has to function under very difficult conditions without the ability to build in additional safety factors.

Winergy Drive Systems builds specialized gearboxes for wind turbines, and claims world leadership in that industry segment with 50% of the market globally and 60% in the U.S. The company split off from Flender in 2002 and boasts 40,000 units installed worldwide.

This short video takes you on a tour of the Winergy Drive Systems assembly floor, showing these huge units in their final production stages. Once you see the process, you will have a new appreciation for what it takes to harness wind power.

 

Watch the Winergy plant tour video .

Read Winds of change for power and control .

Read Wind power's growing contribution .

 



No comments
Consulting-Specifying Engineer's Product of the Year (POY) contest is the premier award for new products in the HVAC, fire, electrical, and...
Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine is dedicated to encouraging and recognizing the most talented young individuals...
The MEP Giants program lists the top mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection engineering firms in the United States.
Integrating electrical and HVAC systems; Tracking and conserving facility water use; Energy code advancements; The future of professional engineers
Control noise, vibration in building design: Tackling acoustics and design issues; High-performance building design; NFPA 99; Combined heat, power
40 Under 40; Stand-alone medical buildings; NFPA 92; Specialty fire suppression; Applying 90.1 in lighting design
Putting COPS into context; Designing medium-voltage electrical systems; Planning and designing resilient, efficient data centers; The nine steps of designing generator fuel systems
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices
Understanding transfer switch operation; Coordinating protective devices; Analyzing NEC 2014 changes; Cooling data centers
As brand protection manager for Eaton’s Electrical Sector, Tom Grace oversees counterfeit awareness...
Amara Rozgus is chief editor and content manager of Consulting-Specifier Engineer magazine.
IEEE power industry experts bring their combined experience in the electrical power industry...
Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT is an Engineering Specification Writer at ARCOM MasterSpec.
click me