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Wind Turbine Mechanical Drive Reliability

Wind turbines have emerged as a viable alternative energy source worldwide, but mechanical drive systems, particularly gearboxes and main bearings, have faced unexpected reliability challenges, resulting in higher failure rates in the past than anticipated. Collaborative efforts between turbine OEMs, NREL, and manufacturers have revealed torque and non-torque loads as key contributors to premature failures. In response, advanced Finite Element Analysis modeling has been employed to design improved components. OCI gearbox expert, Greg Smith, provides an overview of some of the root causes and design adjustments implemented to mitigate failures.

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Global Offshore Wind Market

The global offshore wind market is poised for remarkable growth, with projections showing an expansion from 65 GW to over 130 GW by 2027. This surge is expected to bring renewable energy to nearly 20 million more homes annually. However, meeting this demand comes with supply chain challenges, particularly in securing specialized vessels like wind turbine installation vessels (WTIV). The US, planning to add 30 GW of production capacity by 2030, faces significant bottlenecks in vessel construction. Fierce competition, weather restrictions, and the complexities of the Jones Act further compound the situation. Nonetheless, addressing supply chain needs promptly presents an opportunity to successfully achieve energy transition and global greenhouse gas reduction goals.

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