The wind industry sales pitch is that the useful life of wind turbines is supposed to be 20 years.  However, the turbines have been plagued by numerous problems and this 20-year life is rather a utopia than anything else. Gearboxes and bearings in wind turbines, more than those in any other application, tend to fail prematurely. In fact, at some wind projects, up to half of all bearings inside the gearboxes fail within a few years.

The fact that the manufacturers of the turbines provide only a two-year warranty, is pretty good evidence of the reliability of this technology at this time.

I am not an engineer or mechanical, so this information is for others to evaluate.

CAUSE AND CONTRIBUTING FACTORS OF FAILURE OF GEARED WIND TURBINES

The geared wind turbines continue to be plagued by numerous gearbox (more accurately the bearings within the gearbox), blade, mechanical, weather-related (e.g. lightning), design and maintenance issues.  The failure of the bearings located within the gearbox is the most significant problem associated with the turbines   This year, Siemens, a main manufacturer of wind turbines, reported a charge of 48 million Euros for inspecting and replacing defective main bearings in some onshore wind turbines.  Structural and mechanical failures (which can result in a tower collapse) are primarily due to control system errors and lack of effective maintenance. If it was not for the government subsidizing of these systems, they would have never been built that way.  This blog addresses the major causes of failure of wind turbines.

Insurance for Wind Farms and Turbines

Like any piece of complex machinery operating under stress, turbines can fail.  They break. They develop faults.  They are improperly constructed.  They are improperly maintained, and so on.  And without the right care and protection policy in place, the resultant claim can quickly spiral out of control.  For the owner and investor, this can lead to lost revenue and operational downtime; at worse, it means absorbing an increasingly daunting repair bill. We outline the top causes for turbine failure and explain what to do when things go wrong.

  Metropolitan Engineering Consulting and Forensics