New Software on V80

The original turbine in the Ferndale wind farm – a Vestas V80 – had had a significant software upgrade that is suppose to reduce torque pressures, and extend the life of the gearbox.

There will be a noticeable change for area residents.  In the past, when winds were light (<13 km/hr), the blades would freewheel.  While sometimes they would be turning below 16.3 rpm, the blades were pitched to catch as much wind as possible, and so the rotor would turn as fast as possible, even if generating no power.  The turbine produces power about 75% of the time, with the 25% composed of low winds, grid outages, and turbine service issues.  Low winds are responsible for at least 20% of the time of no production.

But in the past, the blades turned, even with no production.  The new software sets the idling blade pitch at 31.5 degrees, so they no longer catch much wind.  The result will be a very slowly turning rotor when the generator is not engaged.  When the rotor speed increases due to increased winds, the turbine pitches the blades to about 4.5 degrees, and the rotor will pick up speed, and the generator will engage.

The turbine will still produce as much power as before.  But area residents will notice it turning very slowly more of the time.  It is desirable to keep a turbine turning, however slowly, as this keeps the gearbox lubricated, and prevents the metals from setting in place on one another.  But the turning speed has been drastically reduced, reducing wear when not producing.

So don’t worry!  When the turbine is turning slowly, it is working, but not producing.  It is doing what it is supposed to be doing.  And you now have a way to know whether the wind speed is over 13 km/h is at 78 m height on the Ferndale flats.

Leave a Reply