For almost 30 years, Canada has been investing in wind power. With wind farms in every province, wind now accounts for roughly 6% of our electricity nationwide, moving Canada closer to achieving its 2030 goal of making 90% of its electricity non-emitting.
A few years ago, this goal almost came up short before it even got a chance to start. Multiple wind farms across the country were reporting the premature failure of the wye ring connection of their Hitachi 1.5MW wind turbine generator. This was causing frequent breakdowns, excessive downtime, and millions in repairs, maintenance, and productivity losses. If Canada was to increase its reliance on renewable energy, something had to be done.
First, what needed to happen was an in-depth analysis of the current wye ring connection to determine the cause of the failure. With cost-effective retrofitting in mind, a new wye ring would have to be designed and engineered from scratch for the Hitachi 1.5MW wind turbines.
THE WAJAX SOLUTION
For this highly technical job, we turned to our long-standing partner, Delom. Acquired by Wajax in 2018, Delom has extensive expertise in electromechanical equipment, maintenance, and wind turbine repair. Along with the Wajax engineering team, they conducted a comprehensive investigation to determine the cause of the failure and then used those insights to design and engineer a new wye ring.
This was, at the time, a drastically new way of thinking. Nothing like this had ever been done before, and, naturally, some operators were hesitant to adopt it. So, to demonstrate the benefits of our new wye ring, Delom helped us calculate the repair and maintenance costs over the next five years should preventative measures not be taken. Then, after looking at the numbers, we worked with our customer to retrofit a new wye ring up-tower.
The equivalent of performing open-heart surgery, this trial had to be conducted with the utmost precision and care. Delom’s team needed to open the generator’s winding, remove the wye ring, install the new one, and put everything back together 300 ft. in the air. If just one thing were out of place, it would result in total wind turbine failure.
At the time, investing substantial amounts of money in long-term preventative measures for wind turbine generators was seen as a risky endeavour. However, our trial proved to be a huge success. It confirmed Delom’s new wye ring could be a reliable and effective preventative measure and that it could be successfully retrofitted up-tower. This meant they wouldn’t need to remove the generator to perform the installation, a costly and time-consuming process that requires a specialized crew and equipment.
First implemented in 2014, over 400 wind turbines now feature Delom’s wye ring connection. As a result, not one has reported a premature failure of the Hitachi 1.5MW wind turbine generator, saving wind farmers millions of dollars in repair costs and potential downtime.
Delom believes that a repair should be a cure, not a band-aid. We were proud to work with them to make that happen.