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Unlock full potential of aging wind turbines with ABB Ability life cycle services

ABB supports wind power asset owners’ aspirational goals to increase performance and prolong lifetime of existing assets with digital services.

As the wind power today is well-recognized as one of the key resources for utility-scale power generation, the subject of wind turbine operations and maintenance (O&M) is becoming increasingly important to maximize turbine’s energy-based availability.

Without an effective O&M strategy in place failure can be devastatingly expensive in terms of inadequate performance, downtime, and most importantly, profitability. It is therefore critical to strategize O&M of wind turbines in a sustainable manner.

Today wind power asset owners can accommodate different O&M strategies for their investments, like use of in-house self-sustaining organizations, outsourced services from turbine manufacturers, or use third-party independent service providers.

ABB service product portfolio to fit all O&M strategies

Different O&M strategies have different needs and demands from product suppliers’ point of view. Therefore, ABB has conducted development work by assessing the market situation together with our customers. As an outcome of this work, we renewed our product portfolio for wind turbine converter services by creating standardized products that best support all recognized O&M strategies – from spare parts to advanced services like design upgrades and remote services.

As with any manmade integrated system, some of the components are more complex in nature than others. The frequency converter is often considered to be one such component because it is made up of a combination of various technologies and elements from the fields of mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering.

Often we can hear claims that the converter today plays a major role in unexpected shutdown events of a wind turbine. Even if this would be the case it is good to know that the risks of a converter failure can be facilitated to minimum if a few, yet very important points are well-understood.  In fact, there are only two reasons why converters fail: overstress and wear-out. If stress applied to converter exceeds its strength the converter will fail and the result is an overstress failure. Wear-out failure happens when the cumulative stress exceeds the converter’s designed durability.

ABB services help identify the condition of aging drives

Every time a converter is exposed to certain stress, it causes some irreversible damage and the converter wears out over time. Respectively, if the stress exceeds its strength the converter will fail and the result is an over-stress failure. How to identify and expose stress and wear-out conditions of aging assets is a vital part to prevent failures from happening.

ABB’s new health and stress check inspection services analyze the impact of stress and wear-out factors efficiently from the environment and usage on the converter, providing cost-optimized maintenance recommendations and valuable operational advice on how to prevent failures.

The optimal time to consider these services is if you are facing growing failure rates, requirements or when a major scheduled maintenance activity is due. These services do not only prevent breakdowns, but they also improve reliability and performance via design upgrades and ABB AbilityTM Remote Services.

New services enable wind power asset owners to enhance the functionalities of aging converters and prolong lifetime expectancy, and thereby providing the best possible return on investment with phased migration to the latest technology. All this can be done without a need of conducting time-consuming and often expensive turbine re-certifications.

New Life Cycle Services for the ACS800-67 wind turbine converter

As an example, we newly introduced a holistic Life Cycle Service product offering for ACS800-67 doubly-fed converters that can unlock the full potential of aging converters by improving their energy-based availability with latest design upgrades at minimum costs embraced with ABB Ability Services.

All industrialized hardware and firmware upgrade kits can be efficiently executed independently by a wind park asset owner, or an ABB expert and regardless of O&M strategy chosen. ABB Ability Services provide condition monitoring, remote assistance and predictive maintenance services based on analysis of the rich data that will be collected from the converter. This will enable continuous monitoring of the key performance indicators affecting converter, which means that the converter’s stress and wear-out factors will be visible to the wind park operator 24/7/365.

Great results and quick Return on Investment

After successful Life Cycle Service execution, the converter uptime and yield can increase over 25% from prior to upgrade. As a result, return on investment time of converter design upgrade is typically less than two years – depending on the wind conditions prevailing at the wind turbine location. All this thanks to our continuous ongoing reliability testing, relentless and systematic design improvement processes and latest hardware and firmware upgrades embraced with digital ABB Ability Services, so that operators’ O&M service teams can detect abnormal behavior and execute planned corrective action before a more serious defect can develop, cost-efficiently.

For additional information, please contact Jari-Pekka Matsinen  and visit the ABB Wind Power Service webpage.

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