One of the primary power producers and grid managers of the Faroe Islands owns and operates several onshore wind farm’s located around the island. In the north of the Faroes, one of the major wind farm’s is equipped with five onshore turbines, each with a capacity of 900 kilowatts, produced by Enercon E44. These wind turbines provide energy to most of the island’s population.
The Faroe Islands benefits from the high winds needed to support cost effective wind energy production – but the unique atmospheric conditions, featuring high moisture and salt content, takes its toll on the machines’ components, especially the generator windings and insulation systems.
Following the failure of all five Neshagi turbines and recognising our expertise in innovative life-extension work, the power supplier reached out to our team at Houghton International, seeking a ground-breaking and innovative solution that would not only repair the unit, but would also improve its future performance and life-expectancy.
Wind turbines are a major part of the energy mix, even more so for the Faroe Islands, which aim to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2030. To meet the energy transition requirements, the leading energy supplier has invested in shifting the island’s energy mix towards renewables.
The issue began to arise when the wind turbines started to fail. Following discussions with the original manufacturer (OEM) Enercon, the energy supplier discovered the OEM do not offer a generator rewind and life extension repair service.
The wind turbine failure became a significant concern for the wind farm, as before partnering with Houghton International, they faced the daunting prospect of replacing the entire wind turbine system. Purchasing new wind turbines would have imposed substantial financial strain and significant time delays. Thankfully, our collaboration alleviated these worries, presenting a more cost-effective and timelier alternative, at less than half the cost of new, and a six-month delivery schedule as opposed to a 18–24 month delivery for new.
It was clear from our discussions, that the wind farm’s preference was to use a single primary contractor, as service HI had not previously offered for wind turbine repair. Using our existing connections from previous successful projects, HI built a team of experts to support all QHSE, planning, lifting and logistics requirements that would complement our high value repair and life-cycle improvement offering for the generator.
No other electro-mechanical service company in Europe provides a fully integrated, end-to-end, service for the repair and life extension of wind turbines.
Our solution provided full project management of the following:
- Safe dismantling & removal from site
- Repair, life-extension and life-cycle upgrade to the generator’s stator and rotor
- Overhaul, repair or replacement of the turbine’s ancillary components
- Blade removal, overhaul and repair
- Main shaft and bearing hub assembly overhaul
- Full recommissioning of the turbine
Ours is a unique service offering in Europe’s renewable energy supply chain today. The energy supplier recognised the absolute value in working with one primary contractor who had the team to competently manage all aspects of this complex project, and asked Houghton International to provide a full service to them.
Time was of the essence. Critical tooling had to be obtained and shipped across the world to allow the turbine to be safely dismantled before the weather window closed in late October. Unpredictable at best, the Faroes’ weather worsens as Atlantic storms roll in from mid-October, making safe removal of a turbine impossible until March. Our team of highly skilled sub-contractors moved very quickly
, and mobilised all required expertise to get the job done in early October, transporting the generator and main shaft hub assembly to the UK, while leaving the blades in local storage to be repaired at a later date.
There is no other company known in the world who has successfully rewound and improved the life-cycle of an Enercon E44 wind turbine generator. We had developed the pioneering process on a previous E48 turbine so were able to get started with the repair immediately. Our proprietary processes allow for optimal efficiency in the execution of what is a very complex rewind, utilising over 50 miles (75km) of continuously wound enamelled copper wire.
For the rotor pole shoes, we utilised our long-proven high speed rail insulation system and process that allows for maximum protection from the harsh elements experienced on a diesel-engine powered rail vehicle – preventing damage from snow, ice and chemicals – thus ensuring the longest possible in-service life-cycle.
Similarly for the stator, we further adapted our innovative insulation system developed on the earlier Enercon E44 repair, taking learning from that highly successful project to include incremental improvements in many aspects of the repair, again ensuring the future life-cycle would be maximised, despite the turbine’s challenging operating environment.
When it came to the main shaft and bearing assembly, our approach was diligent. We conducted a careful dismantling process, noting down every intricate detail to ensure precise reassembly.
We wanted to comprehensively understand the hub’s condition, so we analysed the two main bearings individually. The main shaft bearing exhibited no issues, while the second bearing left some suspicion. We strongly advised replacing the second bearing to ensure optimal functionality and safety. We also replaced all three blade pitch motors with new units to ensure maximum life-expectancy of the whole drivetrain.
Our partners concurrently worked on repairing the blades locally, identifying areas of corrosion and operational wear, effecting localised repairs, all ensuring the optimal future life-cycle for the turbine in operation.
On the ground, a Faroese partner ensured all electronic and ancillary componentry were tested and replacements ordered to coincide with the generator’s return. Every aspect of the turbine’s system must be in good working order for
Before returning the wind turbines and overseeing the re-installation process, we ensured that both the hub and generator met our industry-leading standards.
To assess the quality of the insulation, we employed static testing with a specific focus on measuring the resistance within the copper wiring. The resistance testing is a meticulous examination that allowed us to determine if the components within the Enercon E44 could withstand high voltage levels effectively.
Given the harsh nature of transit through the North Sea, our packaging solution must ensure the generator arrives in exactly the condition that it left our works. Our experience shipping high-voltage coils around the world gave us the knowledge needed to ensure this happened, while we strive to find the most cost and time effective logistics partners, without compromising quality.
Outcome & the benefits
As a result of our collaborative efforts, the Enercon E44 wind turbine is now operating in the Faroe Islands, supporting its ambitious goal of relying solely on renewable energy by 2030. This contract exemplifies our commitment to sustainable solutions and showcases the potential for overcoming challenges to pursue a cleaner, greener future.
The energy supplier received a turbine that was as good as new but cost less than half the price of a new one. The delivery was also 12-18 months faster than any OEM could achieve.
In addition to our successful life extension work on the Enercon E44 wind turbines, we have also unlocked new opportunities in the market by offering innovative repairs. These repairs have the potential to save the wind energy industry millions by significantly extending the lifespan of existing wind turbines, and repairing much faster than any replacement unit could be delivered.
Our turnkey solution as primary contractor also saved the wind farm’s management significant time having outsourced to a single supplier, and our partners stood up to the plate to deliver exceptional service in an incredibly challenging environment.
Houghton International helps asset owners and operators to achieve the most cost-effective repair of their wind turbines by working with them and our partners to deliver an outcome that is delivered faster and costs significantly less than seeking replacements, especially for a direct drive wind turbine.