The WindSmart hydraulic drive train system for wind turbines offers many advantages in the wind energy market. For example, the system increases energy efficiency in variable speed wind turbines, reduces maintenance costs in wind power systems by eliminating the gearbox component, enables old-fashioned or inoperative wind turbines to be upgraded to present-day technology (especially in remote locations), and also offers an alternative configuration for the internal components of a wind turbine system for ease of maintenance.
Advantages to utilizing the WindSmart Hydraulic Drive Train System include:
- Present small wind turbines typically have a fixed speed generator connected to the grid (Sometimes a two speed generator is used while the grid frequency is maintained by changing (winding switching) the number of poles).
In order to mitigate the inefficient energy production of a fixed speed rotor, some of those turbines incorporate a rudimentary and relatively expensive blade pitching mechanism that typically causes a multitude of maintenance problems. Replacing the present drive train with the WindSmart System allows those turbines to run in a variable speed mode, thereby increasing the energy production (compared to fixed speed) substantially.
- The WindSmart Systems will also allow the placement of only the pump inside the nacelle, while motor and generator can be placed in the tower or on ground level, thereby facilitating maintenance. While this configuration would have a lower efficiency, convenience of maintenance may present a trade-off in certain markets. An alternative configuration is to locate the generator and the hydraulic pump vertical at the top of the tower. This would eliminate the need for cable twist prevention systems, and lighten the nacelle and the yaw drive system.
- The gearbox is eliminated. Typically, the gear box is a high-maintenance item.
- Most Medium Sized turbines (100-700 kW) are variable speed machines; some have both variable speed and variable pitch. They are typically earlier generation turbines. Many of those have been taken out of commission and could be considered as a good market opportunity for upgrading to a WindSmart System, being sold in more remote areas where large machines would not make economic sense.