Gearbox Failure Investigation- Author...

Gearbox Failure Investigation- Author: Roberts, Don

Posted in the Portsmouth Forum

Bill Carson

Mattapoisett, MA

#1 Nov 14, 2012

posted: October 27, 2012 • Rhode Island, Technology
Gearbox Failure Investigation
Author: Roberts, Don


The town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island (Portsmouth) commissioned a new AAER 1500-77-65 1.5 Megawatt wind turbine on March 24, 2009. On May 18, 2012, significant amounts of metal were found in the gearbox oil filter housing and significant internal damage was observed with a borescope. The filter element was replaced on May 25, and the turbine was returned to service. The turbine was removed from service on June 18, 2012 after significant additional metal was discovered in the filter housing.

The Portsmouth wind turbine gearbox has suffered a significant, premature failure of the first and second planetary stages. The gearbox must be replaced in order to return the turbine to service.

The failure occurred after 3 years of operation [emphasis added] despite a design life of 20 years. Total operating time on the turbine is approximately 21,000 hours, and total production in accordance with the production meter is 9,898 MWh. Depending upon future gearbox reliability, the cost of one or more replacements may exceed the potential future profit for the life of the turbine. Therefore, a clear understanding of the root cause of failure and the reliability of the turbine moving forward is critical to Portsmouth.

Due to the extent of the damage, replacement is most likely preferable to repair, depending upon repair vs. replacement cost.

The root cause of failure was not determined during this investigation. Several potential causes were ruled out as follows:

Structural damage to critical support structure or looseness of components such as blades, hub, tower foundation, and generator
Generator misalignment
Blade exterior condition such as cracks, delamination, or missing vortex generators
High frequency of yaw error exceeding 10 degrees (nacelle direction vs. prevailing wind direction
Possible root causes of failure that cannot be confirmed or ruled out are categorized as follows:

High: Gearbox manufacturing error with respect to assembly quality and choice of materials and specifications—complete teardown inspection is required as well as review of design and build records
High: Gearbox design error with respect to structural stiffness of housing—analysis verification required
Low: Wind turbine support structural stiffness—analysis verification required of unique ring mount design
Low: Pitch asymmetry due to incorrect blade offsets
Low: Service quality, especially after May 2011. However, failure to identify failure in a timely manner resulted in unplanned failure and extensive gearbox collateral internal damage.
Low: Siting—possible wind shear from freeway cut. Nearby 47 foot-tall water tank is not a likely contributor.
The gearbox configuration is not conventional by US industry standards. The make and model of gearbox have a poor track record, with at least 3 of 5 installed in the US having gearbox failures within the first 3-4 years of operation. Supply of replacement gearboxes is likely to be limited, and the turbine is destined to become an orphan due to bankruptcy of the manufacturer (AAER) and sluggish support from the designer (AMSC/Windtec). AAER purchased a license to build the 1650 kW AMSC/Wintec design but built a 1500 kW machine instead.

Download original document:“Gearbox Failure Investigation”
Jerry Hogan

Providence, RI

#2 Nov 15, 2012
The turbine should only been purchased if it benefits our towns and citizens. I don’t see how it’s going to benefit our citizens when you had out of state agencies involved in the purchase of a wind turbine.

The University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Laboratory must have had information about gear box failures in these turbines. Why wasn't that information shared with the members of the Portsmouth wind committee ?

The University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative was stuck with two Vestas V 82 wind turbines and it was a political embarrassment to the Massachusetts semi quasi state agency .

The Attorney General of the Rhode Island Department of the Attorney General should look into the purchase of the town owned wind turbine sooner rather than later . This looks like misuse of taxpayers funds

The University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Laboratory helped the Town of Portsmouth purchase the high school wind turbine. The Portsmouth EDC thanked especially Sally Wright of the MREL for all the help . What's missing is what exactly was the role of the State of Massachusetts and a semi quasi state agency in the purchase of a town owned wind turbine ?

October 8, 2007 Page VI The PEDC wishes to acknowledge the following organizations and individuals for their support and the expertise and generosity of time they provided. University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Laboratory especially Sally Wright.
Jerry Hogan

Providence, RI

#3 Nov 15, 2012
Sally Wright of the University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Laboratory went on to work for a commercial wind turbine contract company.

Most of the people associated with the sale and purchase of the AAER wind turbine in Portsmouth were promoted or given plush 6 figure jobs in the wind industry - This is how it works !

Application of Antrim Wind Energy, LLC
Second Supplemental Prefiled Testimony of Sean McCabe
First Supplemental Prefiled Testimony of Ruben Segura-Coto and
Prefiled Direct Testimony of Sally Wright
October 11, 2012
Page 1 of 6

s. Wright, who is your current employer and what position do you hold?
5 A. I am Senior Turbine Engineer in the Turbine Assessment Group at GL Garrad
6 Hassan America, and I am replacing my colleague Ellen Crivella in this docket and
7 adopting her January 31, 2012 and August 22, 2012 testimony.
8 Q. What are your background, experience and qualifications?
9 A. I am a Senior Turbine Engineer at Garrad Hassan America, Inc. I have over 11
10 years of experience in wind power and 19 years’ broad experience in design and project
11 management in the fields of renewable energy, energy conservation, and power system
12 controls. I joined GL Garrad Hassan in 2008 and in my current role I evaluate wind
13 turbine technology for wind power projects throughout North America.
14 I formerly served as project manager and staff engineer at the University of
15 Massachusetts Renewable Energy Research Laboratory for over seven years, with a
16 primary focus on technical project development for community-scale wind installations.
Concerned Citizen

Providence, RI

#4 Nov 17, 2012
It's pretty clear the individuals who work at the University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Laboratory have an agenda to build as many commercial wind turbines any place in the world ! But Why ?

The employees of the University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Laboratory or what was called Massachusetts Technology Massachusetts Technology Collaborative where being paid six figure yearly paychecks to help the Massachusetts semi-quasi state agency place commercial wind turbines.

These employees would go to other states outside Massachusetts and "help" small towns get their commercial wind turbines installed . What was in it for them ?

The employees who were "helping" towns such as Portsmouth ,Rhode Island install wind turbines were at the same time working for wind turbine contractors and wind turbine contractors.The only interest these people from the Massachusetts semi quasi state agency had was themselves.

It's not known if the semi quasi state employees were getting a commission on the turbines but one thing is very clear !

Bill Carson

Mattapoisett, MA

#5 Nov 18, 2012
How about the RI Energy Office, especially Commissioner Andy Dzykewicz ?

Commissioner Andy Dzykewicz worked for the wind turbine industry long before he came to be the Energy Czar of Rhode Island !

The problem with the Town of Portsmouth was they stacked the deck with pro wind turbine contractors,wind groups and state employees dependant on wind turbines !

This wind turbine in Portsmouth was not about renewable energy it was shoved down the throats of the taxpayers by the wind industry and the fools in Portsmouth that beleived they could save money !
Jack DeLeo

Jamestown, RI

#6 Jun 24, 2014

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