Energy and Climate
Energy and ClimateRenewable SystemsRenewable EnergyWind EnergyProgram Activities: Reliability Database and System Analysis

Program Activities: Reliability Database and System Analysis

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Reaching a 20% or greater penetration of the electrical demand in the US, as outlined in the DOE 20% report, requires continuing public confidence in the quality, durability, and reliability of wind turbines throughout the fleet. The Reliability program aims to ensure the fleet is operating at high performance levels, judged both by energy delivery and low operating costs. This task will measure, analyze, document and publish current and emerging performance, as well as target potential issues as early as possible. To accomplish this, the program will initiate a widespread tracking system to monitor reliability of the fleet, archived in a national reliability database. The national database will be analyzed to determine the systemic sources of unreliability. The program can use these analyses to initiate technology improvement projects where critical issues are discovered to be negatively impacting fleet performance.

System Performance and Blade Testing

Full scale testing of prototype wind turbine blades is vital to asses the structural and aerodynamic performance of advanced concepts. Through a series of projects, Sandia has developed three advanced blade designs which are in the process of being evaluated by structural and aerodynamic testing. Sandia will continue to conduct both laboratory and field testing of advanced blades in the future, and provide the necessary results to industry to ensure the viability of the unique features of the designs. Additionally, results from the blade testing will provide the critical information needed to validate and improve our design codes.

Reliability Collaboration and System Analysis

The objective of Reliability Collaboration and System Analysis program is to characterize reliability performance issues and identify opportunities for improving reliability and availability performance of the national wind energy infrastructure. A system for gathering, protecting, managing and disseminating reliability data at the point of operations for all critical stakeholders, including manufacturers, developers, financiers, and operators themselves is being created. The information will also be used to guide DOE program R&D investment through identification of critical issues (TIOs). It will determine relative impact of component failures and provide data for root cause of component failures. The information will be used to guide industry action for improved equipment performance and operating practices in several ways, including the following:

  1. Provide industry benchmarking with aggregated statistics to assess their own equipment and practices,
  2. Identify best practices, improvements and opportunities, as well as potential pitfalls for industry,
  3. Give specific feedback assessments to partners: operators, owners, asset managers, and equipment suppliers, and finally
  4. Facilitate a culture change in wind plant operation to more effectively monitor and utilize reliability information.

The long-term objective will be an industry led and funded program that serves industry needs through high value-added management of Reliability, Availability, and Maintenance (RAM) data.

Certification and Standards

Wind turbine standards aim to insure that turbines are installed with the appropriate strength and durability. When a site is chosen, a site assessment determines whether that location will be adequately covered by the design specifications. Sites can have critical conditions that create a hazard for deployment from such local conditions as atmospheric events or earthquakes. This task seeks to lay out a systematic framework for site risk assessment so that these conditions can be assessed. This task provides the link from atmospheric science, which characterizes the environment, to the impact of these conditions on turbine deployment risk. The objective is to provide a clear pathway for developers to assess whether a particular site is completely covered by the standard design conditions, needs design modification to mitigate a particular risk, or should be insured to cover a rare but devastating event.

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