UL, a global safety certification company, says ERG, a European wind energy operator, is the first entity to receive a certificate for UL 4143, the Standard for Wind Turbine Generator Life Time Extension, for an ERG wind farm in Italy.
UL 4143 is a process of assessing lifetime extension for a wind farm through onsite inspection of turbines and blades focused on structural integrity and an analytical evaluation of the site conditions to determine the remaining useful life for each structural component. The evaluation is done using UL’s aeroelastic models with inputs from the plant such as building permits, maintenance and inspection records, SCADA data, power curtailment, type certificates and more. The outcome is summarized in a final report defining the remaining useful life (RUL) of the plant and the conditions under which it can be achieved.
ERG owns a fleet of wind turbines in Italy, France and Germany that are reaching 20 years of operation – the typical design life of a wind turbine. To achieve the UL 4143 Standard certificate, UL performed a number of lifetime assessments and aging plant analyses. The structural integrity of the turbines was confirmed by means of load simulations performed to assess the safety and viability of extending turbine life. Additionally, a risk analysis evaluation was performed to evaluate potential rising risks connected with the aging turbines.
“Turbines are designed for specific International Electrotechnical Commission wind class conditions based on average wind speed, extreme gusts and turbulence – and typically for a 20-year expected lifespan,” says Michael Brower, vice president of the renewables division of UL. “In many cases the actual wind conditions are less aggressive than design conditions and enough margin exists in the design that the turbine can safely operate well beyond its intended life. The goals for UL are to support the sustainable, safe operation and to help maximize the life and value of their operating wind assets.”
UL recently surpassed 20 GW assessed around the world on over 9,000 turbines – 160 wind turbine models from 27 manufacturers.
To read more about UL’s lifetime extension services, click here.
Photo: UL’s Wind Certification web page