Engineering a Sustainable Future – Wind Energy

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Wind energy has become an important factor in promoting sustainable development around the world. Wind energy is an inexhaustible source of energy and leveraging this can meet the global demand for a renewable and clean energy source. It also provides a significant solution for global pollution issues as well as the obscenely high cost of fossil fuels.

There has been an increasing demand for energy globally and with the emission of harmful gases due to fossil fuels, the need for renewable energy resources has risen threefold.

The global wind energy resources are estimated to be 72 TW. This is roughly seven times the global demand for electricity and five times the demand for energy across the world.


In 2018, the global capacity of wind power had reached over 600 GW. Further, the construction of new wind power is different in each year and also varies by region. Here is a list of the top 10 countries which has installed the highest wind capacity in the world.



S.no Top 10 countries Installed capacity
1 China 221 GW
2 US 96.4 GW
3 Germany 59.3 GW
4 India 35 GW
5 Spain 23 GW
6 United Kingdom 20.7 GW
7 France 15.3 GW
8 Brazil 14.5 GW
9 Canada 12.8 GW
10 Italy 10.1 GW


The Manufacturing Process

Before beginning the construction of wind turbines, consideration must be majorly given to the ideal location where the turbines must be deployed. The manufacturers must determine the wind speed and make sure it’s consistent; preferably 15.5 miles per hour (25 km/hr). If the winds are stronger during certain seasons, then they better be during the times of maximum use of electricity.

Wind farms are known to work best in areas that are vast and open with slightly rolling lands with mountains all around. Such areas are preferred as the wind turbines can be comfortably placed on ridges and will remain undisturbed by trees or buildings. The mountains will help in concentrating the airflow and create a natural wind tunnel of faster and stronger winds. Wind farms need to be placed near the utility lines in order to facilitate the transfer of electricity to the local power plant.


Erecting the tower

The steel parts of a tower are manufactured offsite in a factory and they are assembled on the site. Before erection, the parts are bolted together and the tower is kept horizontal before being placed. A crane is used to lift the tower into position and all the bolts are tightened. A test for stability is done upon completion.


Nacelle

The fiberglass nacelle is manufactured offsite in a factory and is put together in a factory itself. The interior parts like the main drive shaft, gearbox, and blade pitch and yaw controls are firstly assembled and then later mounted onto a base frame. Later, the nacelle is bolted around the structure. At the site, the nacelle is lifted using cranes to the finished structure and bolted.


Rotary Blades

Sheets of aluminum are bolted together to create aluminum blades and the wooden blades are carved out to create an aerodynamic propeller. These propellers are similar in cross-section to an airplane wing.
Most of the blades are usually formed with fiberglass. But the manufacturing of fiberglass is a very tedious process. First, a mold that is shaped like a blade is created in two halves. Later, a fiberglass and resin composite mixture is applied to the surface of the mold facing inwards and then closed. The fiberglass mixture is then left to dry for several hours. As it dries, an air-filled bladder within the mold helps to keep the blade in shape. After it dries, the mold is opened and the bladder is removed. The final steps involve, cleaning, sanding and painting before which the halves are sealed.
The blades are bolted onto the nacelle after it is fixed to the tower. Assembly is usually easier on the ground. Sometimes, a three-pronged blade has two blades that are bolted onto the nacelle before it is lifted. The third blade is fixed after the nacelle is in place.


Installation of the control systems

Along with the placement of the nacelle and blades, the utility box for each wind turbine and the electrical communication for the wind farm is installed simultaneously. Cables start from the nacelle to the utility box and from the utility box to the remote control center.

Future of wind energy

The complete potential of wind turbines is majorly untapped. There is a stiff competition in the field of Research and Development (R&D) for the wind turbine developers to create large offshore models for extreme weather and sea conditions. Designs are being developed to reduce the installation time and maintenance frequency. These developments will logistically come into force in the next decade. Along with this, the supply chain necessary for coastal manufacturing and the facilities required to negate the obstructions involved with road/rail transports will also be looked upon by the research team.

The wind turbine manufacturers are also focusing now on floating offshore models. These models will be rendered in a way that all the construction and maintenance part will be done on land. Later, the equipment will be taken to the ocean and hooked to the seabed. Some of the new fields of innovation in the near future will be advanced drivetrain designs, larger rotors made using lightweight materials, better condition monitoring systems, and taller towers with varied architecture and materials.

What AXISCADES does

Our future depends on effective usage of sustainable energy and finding new ways to make us efficient.

Some of our solutions are:

Product Engineering Solutions
Simulation and Validation
Manufacturing Engineering Solutions
After Sales Solutions
Enterprise Engineering Solutions

The system and sub-system experience of AXISCADES spans across all components like:

Hub
Spinner
Blade
Nacelle
Canopy
Braking System
Rear end support structure
Transformer
Yaw System
Helihoist
Yaw Brake
Cooling System
Yaw motor



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