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Wind Farm Operation & Maintenance Cost Forecasting Tool

F.Amoiralis Loughborough University Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK


Abstract: This report describes the conducted thesis research conducted at Mecal BV, The Netherlands. The primary aim of the research was to develope a computer model to estimate the onshore wind farm operational and maintenance cost based on stochastic failures within a time series domain. The model is to be used within Mecals Wind Farm Services department to provide its customers with greater certainty in relation to their investment costs. In addition, it may be used to optimise the service crew and spare parts management therefore increasing revenue. The model is based on Monte Carlo Simulation including annual downtime and repair cost per wind turbine sub-assembly. The model has been designed for extensive flexibility, allowing for an infinite1 number of wind turbine types, sub-assemblies and failure modes. Moreover, considering the importance of modelling inputs, a standard procedure for determining the Mean Time Between Failure of the failure modes is investigated, by consulting the available surveys and Mecals internal knowledgebase. The full research report, includes a brief reference to Reliability Engineering and the Weibull Distribution and an overview of the existing O&M prediction tools and available failure databases. Keywords: Wind Turbine, Maintenance, Reliability, Monte Carlo Simulation, Modelling. 1. INTRODUCTION The issue of wind farm Operation and Maintenance (O&M) forecasting becomes critical after the expiration of the warranty period (which is usually 3-5 years after operation commences). The current practice is for wind farm investors and operators is referring to research institutes, consulting companies or individual O&M providers, hereby referred to as Consultants, for advice on their wind farm operation and maintenance management. During the warranty period little or no information is provided to the developer regarding the conceived actions around the operation and maintenance of their wind farm. Consultants face the same dilemma. Hence, their advice is heavily based on expert judgment supported by available survey data. Surveys, regarding wind energy converter (WEC) failures, have been conducted by several institutes. The results of these surveys though refer to older technologies. Hence Consultants have to extrapolate the knowledge that exists from older wind farms. Furthermore, uncertainty always lies in the fact that failure logs, where important data is derived from, are not always thoroughly updated. This paper, summarises the main points of a final thesis which was conducted within the scope of the EUREC master program.
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The aim was creating a computer application for reducing the uncertainty around wind farm O&M cost prediction. 1.2 Project Methodology The project was initiated by conducting a literature review on O&M, reliability and fault prediction models based on stochastic and statistical methodologies. This was achieved by reviewing the available O&M tools in the market and Mecals former tool. The inputs of these tools were examined as well as their methodology and effectiveness. The research was followed by interviews with the creators and users of these models. Interviews were based on questionnaires derived from reviewing the existing models and the literature, with the aim of establishing a practical understanding of these models. Furthermore, to begin formulating the applications structure, Mecals available WEC failure data such as the Betreiber Datenbasis (BDB) and inspection reports were reviewed to define the appropriate application inputs and assumptions. After examining the inputs, the available literature on Monte Carlo simulation and Weibull distribution was consulted, to establish the processing methodology. The Markov Process was also superficially investigated. 2. ESTABLISHING THE METHODOLOGY 2.2 Weibull Analysis in Wind Energy A very crucial aspect in O&M cost forecasting is to determine the failure distribution of the WECs. To this aim, a research in the literature of WEC reliability studies was initiated to examine the established approaches for determining the WEC failure rate. A number of studies that use the Weibull distribution derive their data from Windstats Newsletters [1], [2], [3], which is an international wind energy publication [4]. These studies although providing valuable insight into the use of the Weibull distribution in WEC reliability, their data refer to WECs of varying population, technology, size and age with insufficient transparency. Hence, their results are unsuitable for this project. Nonetheless, Herbert et al [5] used the failure data from a specific wind farm with turbines having 225 kW rated power and stall regulation. Having 5 years of maintenance and production data, he was able to predict the reliability and maintenance cost of the wind farm using the Weibull distribution. Similar procedure was carried out by Andrawus et al [6] using maintenance logs from 600kW WECs combined with SCADA data to better define the failure type. In addition to Weibull, the use of the Markov Process has been proposed by Byon et al [7] for simulating an onshore wind farm O&M, including weather effects.

Limited by the number of rows of the MS Excel spread sheet.

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2.3 Existing WEC Reliability Prediction Models After consulting the methodology of existing wind turbine O&M cost forecasting models, it is apparent that due to the large uncertainty around WEC failure rates and the lack of sufficient data such as maintenance logs, experts are using stochastic or constant failure rates simulated statistically [8], [9] or in a time series [10] , [11]. Simpler models have also been suggested which focus more on the revenue losses due to reduced availability in offshore schemes. Van Bussel [12] proposed a model which extrapolates the availability of an onshore wind farm to offshore, taking into account the annual percentage of storm days to estimate the effect of accessibility. McMillan et al, relates the failure rate to the capacity factor [13] and Alberts et al [14] suggests that the maintenance cost approximately doubles during the second decade of the wind farms life time. 3. DETERMINE MODEL INPUTS The results of the model are heavily dependant on the inputs. Hence, in order to determine an appropriate procedure for defining the inputs, an investigation was conducted to exploit the available databases. Unfortunately, there was inadequate time to present comprehensive results as it is a complex and extensive subject which is still under investigation in projects such as ReliaWind. The general approach is to combine the SCADA data history of the WECs with the maintenance reports and identify trends. The concept of the investigation was identifying the useful statistical databases which would provide the basic reliability expectation of the wind turbine assemblies. The reliability values, derived from the statistical surveys would then be adjusted to the specific characteristics of the wind farm under investigation, using the available knowledgebase within Mecal such as the WONDER application [16] and onsite inspections and data from the Betreiber Datenbasis [15]. 3.1 Wind Turbine Failure Databases Following are some of the outcomes which were recognised from the literature and interviews. On an assembly level, the yaw system demonstrates higher failures in turbulent wind environments. Furthermore, the pitch system demonstrates higher failures in low wind speed sites and periods due to increased activity. WECs which experience higher winds demonstrate higher failure rates [17], especially on the gearbox and electrical components [18]. Also, failure rate is increased in sites depicting larger weather and wind speed variance [19]. In general from the studies regarding WEC failures, it is apparent that with the exception of survey [20], the overall failure rate increases WEC size [21], [22]. The reason may be the haste at which the industry has grown, due to the increased competence, which lead in over sizing the newer models without this being followed by the analogous technological progress [27]. Moreover, it is apparent that WECs which incorporate internal service crew lift, experience superior maintenance practice [28]. The impact of internal lifts in maintenance has been identified also by Mecals

inspection crew, as it has been found that WECs of the same model with no lift, experience more failures compared to the ones which have a lift. A representation of the relation between turbine size and failure rate is provided through the LWK (Landwirtschafts-kammer) data (Figure 1.).

Figure 1. Wind turbine failure trend in relation to rated power [21]. 2.5 Model Specific Failure Data To be able to determine the reliability of specific WEC models the WONDER application was used, a software program which provides WEC SCADA data. A simple code in Visual Basic was created to filter them and create graphs which depict the warning history of two Vestas V80, A and B, that belong to a wind farm, situated in the Netherlands. The age of the WECs is about 4 years old. The focus was on the temperature signals, as high temperatures should indicate a mechanical or electrical components malfunction. From the following graphs (Figure 2. and Figure 3.), it can be seen that WEC A exhibited continues warnings because of high temperatures in the Hydraulic System, which ultimately lead to a significant downtime (20 days) after two years of operation.

Figure 2. Wind Turbine A Downtime Share per Cause, observed through SCADA data. It can be observed that both WEC, A and B, exhibit a high amount of warnings grouped as General or Control. This is mainly because the WECs in this wind farm were grounded incorrectly, thus static currents are created, causing problems in the sensitive circuits of the control

and communication systems (About 65% of the warnings in the General group of WEC B, were because of communication errors between the nacelle and the tower bottom). The relatively high percentage of General Temperature warnings is related to the operational limit of the WEC has been set to only 30oC Ambient Temperature, causing them to shutdown regularly in the summer period. So, in conclusion WEC B exhibits a relatively normal operation.

dispatched immediately to any wind turbine waiting for repair. If a wind turbine is waiting for a spare part, it begins to be repaired as soon as it arrives, provided there is available crew. 3.2 Model Inputs The main inputs of the model are described below. Failure Estimates: The wind turbine types which exist in the wind farm are declared. These may not only be discriminated by manufacturer model but also by the operational conditions and structural status. For example a wind turbine sitting behind other wind turbines, experiencing higher turbulence may have a lower MTBF value in the yaw system. Another type may also refer to a wind turbine with defective gearbox, identified through inspection. There can be an infinite number of wind turbine types which can be analysed in an infinite number of sub-assemblies, each one with an indefinite number of failure modes. Maintenance Management: The model can also be used in optimising the spare parts and crew strategy. The spare parts are can be are kept in stock or set in order on demand basis. The number of crew and shift hours is also defined. General inputs: These include the desired number of iterations, the period of the wind farm under investigation, the electricity price, warranty period, etc. 3.3 Model Assumptions Below the model assumptions are described and commented.

Figure 3. Wind Turbine B Downtime Share per Cause, observed through SCADA data. Such interpretation of results can be used for evaluating the current status of sub-assemblies, depending on their operational history, which can then be used in predicting their reliabiltity. 2.6 Failure Relations Results In order to combine above mentioned information, the layout of a spread sheet was created were the values from general and model specific data will be combined with operational data to produce an estimate of the subassemblies MTBF. Data are weighted, depending on their relevancy to the actual wind farm under investigation. The results are only to provide an indication, which would then be evaluated using expert opinion. 3. WIND FARM O&M MODEL 3.1 Conceptual Model In order to consider the variability of the failure rate which is observed in actual wind farms, failure occurrences are determined by a Random Number Generator which derives its values from the Weibull Distribution (Appendix). The time intervals are not constant and depend on the sequence of events, thus reducing calculation time. Events are characterized by changes in the status of the wind farm. Wind turbine status is distinguished in four states: 1) 2) 3) 4) In operation. Failed and waiting for repair. Failed and waiting for spare part. In repair.

a) The model assumes that the failure rate b) c) d)


distribution is described by the Weibull Distribution. The availability of equipment, such as external crane, is not evaluated, assuming that these are rented. Although crew shifts are taken into consideration, no account is taken for weekends and holidays. The failure rate is independent of seasonal weather variation.

The latter (d) is contradictory to the common industry belief that most failures occur during the winter. This is not of great importance in the onshore environment, however, in offshore schemes, during high wind periods, accessibility to the wind farm is reduced due to correlation of wave height and wind speed, reducing the overall availability of the WECs, thus having a higher impact on the revenue. 3.4 Simulation of Significant Wave Height using the Marcov Process Several approaches were considered for simulating the offshore wave climate, however, none was found efficient enough to be included in the final model, due to the limited time and lack of available data. Nevertheless, a simplistic method was concluded, which uses the minimum of data. The method requires that the sites percentage exceedance probability of the significant wave height (Hs), is known. The probabilities are arranged in groups with overlapping boundaries, i.e. 0 to 2.25 m, 0.75

When a failure occurs, the repair time, service crew size and costs are calculated from the Triangular Distribution (Appendix). After a repair is completed the crew is

to 3 m. Afterwards, using these groups, multiple random iterations are performed creating a Markov Transition table for each group. The Transition tables are then combined to create a larger Transition table which is used for simulating the wave climate. Hence, the persistence of the wave climate can be simulated while also the produced distribution is consistent with the original. On Figure 4. the produced hourly Hs can be seen. The steep variations occur because of the relative large boundaries of the Hs groups, chosen for this example. For the same reason, the simulated distribution of the Hs exceedance probability deviates from the original (Figure 5.).

The division of the results by cause allows in identifying the week points of the wind farm and maintenance strategy. Moreover, from the electricity selling price and the capacity factor of the wind turbine type, the revenue losses are estimated. The division of the repair cost results, is similar to the downtime and also the 5th and 95th percentiles with the Present Value are calculated. The percentiles further describe the incorporated uncertainties and level extreme results. The results can be used: a) To reduce the uncertainty in wind farm O&M costs. b) To provide a reference for the effectiveness of the wind farms O&M management. c) To indicate whether the client should purchase an O&M manufacturer contract and to what price. d) Evaluate the profitability of the wind farm. 5. CONCLUSIONS A model for estimating the Onshore Wind Farm Operation & Maintenance Cost has been created. The structure allows for extensive flexibility in defining different wind turbine models, the sub-assemblies anatomy, operational conditions and failure modes. The Monte Carlo Simulation has been applied using stochastic failures derived from the Weibull Distribution. Although it has not yet been validated, the overall concept and methodology exerts an effective approach. The model can be used lessening the uncertainties in the running costs of their investments by providing detailed results including downtime duration divided by cause and cost percentiles. The model is accompanied by an explicit User Manual and detailed Functional Diagram. Furthermore, the foundations for establishing a standardized procedure to determine the MTBF of wind turbine sub-assemblies have been determined, using the available statistical surveys and internal data. Unfortunately, there was insufficient time to finalize the latter task. Finally a simplistic approach for simulating the offshore wave climate was proposed. 6. ACKNOWEDGEMENTS The author of this paper would like to express his gratitude and sincere appreciation to Frank Roellofzen and Fergal OMahony for their valuable comments and suggestions and Eric Kamphues for providing the opportunity to conduct my research at Mecal. 7. REFERENCES [1] H.Guo, S.Watson, P.Tavner, J.Xiang, Reliability Analysis for Wind Turbines with Incomplete failure data collected from after the date if initial installation, Elsevier, Reliability Engineering and System Safety 94, p. 1057-1063, 2009. [2] P.J.Tavner, J.Xiang, F.Spinato, Reliability Analysis for Wind Turbines, Wiley Interscience, DOI: 10.1002/we.204, Wind Energy 2007;10:1-18, 2006. [3] F.P.A.Coolent, F.Spinato, D.Venkat, On Modelling of Grouped Reliability Data for Wind Turbines, IMA 4

Figure 4. Hourly Significant Wave Height Simulation.

Figure 5. Comparison of Original and Simulated Hs distribution. The method should produce finer results when Transition tables with smaller boundaries are used. Nevertheless, the Hs exceedance probability distribution provides no discrimination between the annual seasons, thus the method cannot take into consideration the seasonal variation of the wave climate. 4. MODEL RESULTS The results are divided into two main categories the, the downtime results from where the revenue is estimated and the repaircost results, where the maintenance and spare part cpsts are presented. The downtime results are further divided as follows: a) By Wind Turbine Type. b) By Operational hours and Downtime hours in Total Time on Test [3]. The downtime hours are further divided into: i. Wind turbine sub-assembly. ii. Downtime cause.

Journal of Management Mathematics Advance Access, DOI: 10.1093/imaman/ dpn012, 2008. [4] Windstats newsletter, www.windstats.com. [5] G.M.Herbert, S.Iniyan, R.Goic, Performance, Reliability and Failure Analysis of Wind Farm in a Developing Country, Elsevier, Renewable Energy Journal, p. 1-13, 2010. [6] J.A.Andrawus, Maintenance Optimization for Wind Turbines, Robert Gordon University, PhD Thesis, 2008. [7] E.Byon, L.Ntaimo, Y.Ding, Optimal Maintenance Strategie for Wind Turbine Systems under Stochastic Weather Conditions, IEEE Transactions on Reliability. [8] LW.M.M.Rademakers, H.Braam, T.S. Obdam, R.P.v.d.Pieterman, Operation and Maintenance Cost Estimator (OMCE) - Final Report, ECN project nr. 7.4395, E--09-037, 2009. [9] G.J.W.Van Bussel, Analysis of Different Means of Transport in the Operation and Maintenance Strategy for the Reference DOWEC Offshore Wind Farm, Presented at the OWEMES offshore wind energy Seminar, 10-12 April 2003, Naples, Italy. [10] J.L.Philips, C.A.Morgan, J.Jacquemin, Evaluating O&M Strategies for Offshore Wind Farms through Simulation The Impact of Wave Climatology, Garrad Hassan and Partners, Bristol, UK. [11] P.Stratford, Assessing the Financial Viability of Offshore Wind Farms, BMT Cordah Ltd. [12] G.J.W.Van Bussel, The Development of an Expert System for the Determination of Availability and O&M Costs for Offshore Wind Farms, Institute for Wind Energy, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology. [13] D.McMillan, G.W.Ault, Specification for Reliability Benchmarks for Offshore Wind Farm, University of Strathclyde. [14] A.Alberts, O&M Cost Modelling, Technical Losses and Associated Uncrtainties, Deutsche WindGuard Consulting GmbH, 2004. [15] Betreiber-Datenbasis, http://www.btrdb.de. [16] WONDER, http://www.windguard.de. [17] S.G.Chrostopher, S.Watson, Physics of failure approach to wind turbine condition based maintenance, Wiley, Wind Energy 13:395-405,2010. [18] S.Faustich, B.Hahn, P.Lyding, P.Tavner, Reliability of Offshore Wind Turbines Identifying risks by Offshore Experience. [19] P.J.Tavner, R.Gindele, S.Faulstich, B.Hahn, M.W.G.Whittle, D.M.Greenwood, Study of Effects of Weather & Location on Wind Turbine Failure Rates, EWEC 2010. [20] E.Echavarria, B.Hahn, G.J.W. Van Bussel, T. Tomiyama, Reliability of Wind Turbine Technology Through Time. [21] H.Berthold, M.Durstewitz, K.Rohrig, Reliability of Wind Turbines, ISET, 2005. [22] P.J.Tavner, F.Spinato, G.J.W.v.Bussel, E.Koutoulakos, Reliability of Different Wind Turbine Concepts with Relevance to Offshore Application, EWEC 2008. [23] S. Faustich, B.Hahn, Comparison of different wind turbine concepts due to their effects on reliability, Project Upwind, Version 1, 2009.

[24] P.J.Tavner, F.Spinato, G.J.W.v.Bussel, E.Koutoulakos, Reliability of Different Wind Turbine Concepts with Relevance to Offshore Application, EWEC 2008. [25] T.Neumann, C.Ender, J.P.Molly, Studie zur aktuellen Kostensituation 2002 der Windenergienutzung in Deutschland, DEWI GmbH, Nr.:SO-199, 2002. [26] K.Smolders, H.Long, Y.Feng, P.Tavner, Reliability Analysis and Prediction on Wind Turbine Gearboxes, EWEC 2010. [27] S.Krohn, P.E.Morthorst, S.Awerbuch, The Economics of Wind Energy, p. 45, EWEA 2009. [28] Power-Gen Worldwide, http://www.powergenworldwide.com. [29] S.G.Chrostopher, S.Watson, Physics of failure approach to wind turbine condition based maintenance, Wiley, Wind Energy 13:395-405, 2010.

8. APPENDIX: RANDOM NUMBER GENERATORS This Appendix describes the distributions which are used in the model to determine the values of the Random Number Generators. The Weibull Distribution is used to estimate the Life Expectancy of the failure modes and the Triangular Distribution for the service parameters. 8.1 Weibull Distribution The Weibull Probability Function (Figure 6.) is,

8.2 Triangular Distribution

f ( x) k / C * ( x / C )( k 1) * e( x / C )

(1) Figure 8. The Triangular Distribution with its Parameters. The inverse triangular distribution is given as follows:
h (Ml Min) /( Max Min)

where, k is the shape parameter and C is the scale parameter.

(3)

If Rnd h then
Random Max (1 Rnd ) * (Max Min) * (Max Ml )

(4) (5)

Else Random Min Rnd * (Max Min) * (Ml Min)

Figure 6. The Weibull Probability Distribution. Parameter values, k = 3, C = 14. The inverse Weibull probability function (Figure 7.) is used for the RNG which is used to estimate the lifetime of the failure modes. The function is:

Where, Random is the result of the inverse function. Max is the upper boundary of the distribution. Min is the lower boundary of the distribution. Ml is the most likely value. Rnd is a pseudo-random number derived from the Normal Distribution [0-1].

Random k * ( ln( Rnd )(1 / C )

(2)

where, Random is the result of the inverse function. Rnd is a pseudo-random number derived from the Normal Distribution [0-1].

Figure 7. The Inverse Weibull Probability Distribution. Parameter values, shape = 3, scale = 14.