Through Xcel Energy’s Renewable Energy Research Grant, Barr and the University of Minnesota St. Anthony Falls Laboratory joined together to develop a cost-effective method for evaluating the current health and remaining useful life of a wind turbine’s tower and foundation.
The project objectives were to develop an economically viable and deployable system of sensors that could take the foundation and tower measurements needed to assess health and remaining useful life, as well as a method of utilizing the data obtained along with SCADA data from the wind turbine for this assessment, and then test the sensor system and estimation methods.
A sensor system was developed and installed on a research wind turbine (that Barr previously designed) at the University’s Eolos Wind Energy Research Station. This system showed accuracy and effectiveness similar to the wind turbine’s existing system with project performance achievements that included: 1) an improved installation mobilization time of less than 4 hours per turbine; 2) potential wind-farm cost savings of at least $100,000 over the 20-year life of the turbine versus conventional sensing systems; 3) development of a metric for estimating the remaining useful life of a wind turbine tower and foundation based on wind turbine historical SCADA data; and 4) potential reduction of up to 54% in equipment costs per wind turbine compared to the cost of the existing system.
Barr is now able to utilize the knowledge gained from this project when deploying equipment for client work.