Building the world’s most powerful gearbox for wind turbines – the Winergy 8 MW gearbox

The world's biggest wind turbine, targeting lowest levelized cost of energy, does mean redefining certain dimensions Such a project is a big challenge

Together with Adwen we had to take many obstacles The boundary of LCoE, the lifecycle of cost of energy, is what we are trying to tackle It is a must to cross these boundaries and to make sure we stay ahead of the curve Wind energy is playing an increasingly prominent role in the market for renewable energies When it comes to the technologies used in this field, wind turbine manufacturer Adwen and the gearbox manufacturer Winergy take leading positions

This is where the energy history of the future is being written, and has been for 35 years now The latest project as an 8 MW turbine It is one of the most powerful wind turbines in the world Today is the day the gearbox begins its journey Looking at introductions Winergy has done in the last couple of years, like the journal bearings and the hybrid drives, I would call Winergy the technology leader

The wind industry has been continuously developing new and larger types of turbines For a number of years now, the focus for large offshore turbines has been not only on reliability, but also on compactness and efficiency Winergy and Adwen have joined forces to meet these challenges As we approached this project we immediately knew that we were going to build the most powerful wind turbine in the world The 8 MW that we have designed here is the largest gearbox for wind turbines in the world

A turbine this size with hub heights of over 100m and a rotor diameter of 180m experiences forces that make the turbine, its rotor and drive train significantly different than the conventional wind turbines we have seen so far New developments and new technologies always lead to new challenges We are used to it It is our job to make these risks assessable Our strength is in new development of products where we are exceeding boundaries that we have had in the past

This is what we offer to the costumer and, of course, quality Quality is a priority for every product we supply By starting this project we had to evaluate which sub-suppliers are able to supply us with the single components that also have extraordinary sizes We needed to ensure top level quality and therefore we had to choose and qualify them very well Quality management starts with defining the order specifications for the raw materials and continues throughout the entire value added process

It applies to the production of the toothed parts, soft machining, hardening and hard machining Wind turbine gearboxes are not easily scalable Numerous conditions change as their size and performance class increase This is just as true for the overall concept as it is for the smallest detail And it goes without saying that each new gearbox benefits from the best practices

With bigger rotor sizes the input torque grows exponentially And it is the same for demand in engineering With increasing the size of the gearbox by such a big step we had to admit that our experience is only valid to a certain degree For every component of the gearbox we made special calculations or risk analyses The large 180 meter rotor defines a clear speed limit of 8 to 9 RPM for the drive train

In comparison to the power rating, the drive train torque increases disproportionally Adwen decided to go for a medium speed concept That means that the gearbox consists out of two planetary stages that are directly connected to the generator This is a planet carrier of the first stage It alone has a weight round about 30 tons

The time schedule in this project was really tough But still the reliability is the highest goal in this project In order to provide this reliability for offshore operation there is one thing that is absolutely essential for validating the theory, an extensive test series We developed the most comprehensive four phase test plan It includes stand-alone-components test, integrated back to back test with the gearbox, complete drive train nacelle test and the final turbine test campaign

So when we started the installation of the prototype we will have accumulated over 8000 hours of testing It was planned to use much of the existing equipment and adept this to the necessary size But after some loops more or less nothing of these devices were left And now we are standing in front of the complete new test bench Load tests involving temperature, pressure and oscillation measurement, as well as analyses of deformations within the gears

Show whether the gearbox will be able to withstand the stresses arising from years of continuous operation The tests were really successful Especially the parameters which are difficult to predict like vibrations and efficiency showed excellent results Also the load distribution measurements in the gear meshes were really good In the cold chamber test the impermeability of the gearbox and the interplay with the oil supply system at different ambient temperatures is tested

Once this has been done a long term robustness test is conducted After which the gearbox is completely disassembled and assessed, in order to see if there are any possible weaknesses remaining When the gearbox is assembled into the nacelle, it has already gone through a great deal But it also has big things ahead In a wind turbine such as Adwen's AD 8-180 it can supply more than 11

000 households with energy In spite of the immense effort and expenditure of such projects, not to mention the risks they entail, Winergy is happy to take on large challenges We need to secure the future for ourselves Therefore I think we have to develop that product to get the cost of energy down A superlative on its way to meet its destiny

With the right planning and a first class manufacturing process something unique is created for the Adwen AD 8-180 wind turbine The Winergy 8 MW gearbox

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