A surrogate model approach for associating wind farm load variations with turbine failures

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In order to ensure structural reliability, wind turbine design is typically based on the assumption of gradual degradation of material properties (fatigue loading). Nevertheless, the relation between the wake-induced load exposure of turbines and the reliability of their major components has not been sufficiently well defined and demonstrated. This study suggests a methodology that makes it possible to correlate loads with reliability of turbines in wind farms in a computationally efficient way by combining physical modeling with machine learning. It can be used for estimating the current health state of a turbine and enables a more precise prediction of the "load budget", i.e., the effect of load-induced degradation and faults on the operating costs of wind farms. The suggested approach is demonstrated on an offshore wind farm for comparing performance, loads and lifetime estimations against recorded main bearing failures from maintenance reports. The validation of the estimated power against the 10 min supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) power signals shows that the surrogate model is able to capture the power performance relatively well with a 1.5 % average error in the prediction of the annual energy production (AEP). It is found that turbines positioned at the border of the wind farm with a higher expected AEP are estimated to experience earlier main bearing failures. However, a clear connection between the load estimations and failure observations could not be confirmed in this study. Finally, the analysis stresses that more failure data are required in future work to enable statistically significant associations of the observed main bearing lifetimes with load exposures across the wind farm and to validate and generalize the suggested approach and its associated findings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWind Energy Science
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1007-1022
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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