Operation and maintenance account for around a third of the life cycle costs of wind plants. System reliability will play a central role in the further sinking of LCOE for wind turbines. At the same time, the focus should be on the components which represent the principal cost drivers due to higher failure rates / longer downtimes. This is particularly applicable to the power electronic frequency converters used in practically all modern wind turbines nowadays.
As the connector between the generator and system transformer, they are used for the power-frequency connection of variable speed wind turbines to the power supply grid. They ensure compliance with the grid connection conditions and permit optimal utilisation of the available wind. The combination of dynamic loads typical of wind and extreme environmental conditions places particularly high requirements on the power electronics.
This project is aimed at comprehending the, as yet, still not understood causes and mechanisms of the frequently occurring damage to power electronic wind turbine components and developing solutions based on this knowledge in order to increase reliability. In addition to extensive evaluation of field data and damage analyses in laboratories, simulation models will be optimised in order to be able to reproduce better the loads acting on power electronics whilst taking the overall plant dynamics during operation into consideration. The development of systems for early detection of faults in electronic plant components and the design of innovative, fault-tolerant generator/converter concepts for the next generation of wind turbines are additional focal points.
The spectrum of private enterprise partners ranges from plant management and maintenance companies to frequency converter and plant manufacturers through to insurance companies and enterprises specialising in measuring technology and condition monitoring. One particular feature of this project is the comprehensive, systematic integration of experiences gained in the field during the design, manufacturing and maintenance processes.
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