A key asset within an offshore and onshore wind farm is the power transformer which connects the wind energy to the electricity grid. Power transformers should have a design life at least as long as the typical 25-year life of a wind farm. However, transformers can develop faults well before the end of their life expectancy, leading to failure and downtime for the wind farm.
Condition monitoring can provide immediate insight into both the health of transformers and the risk to availability. By continuously monitoring each transformer, emerging faults are identified immediately in real-time, enabling interventions to minimize the potential risk of downtime for the wind farm’s facilities.
Here, we outline five reasons why wind farm owners and operators should invest and implement transformer monitoring to protect their investments and optimize their operations.
1. Maximize availability and reduce risks
Uptime is a top priority for onshore and offshore wind farm owners or operators and many consider the power transformer as the single point of failure for any plant. If a transformer suffers a critical failure, this leads to potential loss of the entire generation capacity of a wind farm and revenues. It's therefore important to have solutions in place to monitor crucial assets like power transformers and implement condition-based and preventative maintenance programs to reduce the risk of unscheduled downtime. Outages mean loss of not only revenues, but also reduction in power supply from wind generation and, in some cases, potentially the need to back up with fossil-powered generation. This can have a significant impact on an operator’s targets for energy generated.
Finally, insurance premiums are a significant cost, especially for offshore installations. With insurers increasingly demanding that best practices in asset management are implemented, monitoring transformers can help wind farm owners or operators manage their insurance costs. Implementing a monitoring solution provides better information on the health of the asset being insured and enables preventative maintenance to be undertaken before faults develop to a point of catastrophic failure, therefore reducing the risk to insurers.