Q: What kind of humidity-induced problems can I face in a wind turbine?
A: In general, we see three types of issues that clients want to have solved: Mold, corrosion or faster startup after grid loss. The latter is related to prevent arc flashing due to high humidity.
Q: Is there any difference between onshore and offshore problems?
A: Often, we hear that especially onshore WTG’s close to the coast (nearshore) are more exposed than dedicated offshore turbines because the offshore turbines are designed for that environment. Also, onshore turbines are more often exposed to rapid changes in temperature, that can lead to condensation inside the WTG’s.
Q: What are the benefits of controlling humidity and salt in a wind turbine?
A: The benefits are many. If you can keep salt out of the turbine and control the humidity, your assets are more likely to produce more for extended periods with less downtime and maintenance cost. If you have salt in your turbine and high humidity, it is a cocktail that is very corrosive.
Q: Is mould a problem in a wind turbine?
A: It can be a problem if technicians are exposed to mould for extended periods in time or if the technicians are already having respiratory issues, mould can exacerbate these health issues. Some technicians will flat out refuse to service assets until they have been cleaned, which is an unnecessary and costly consequence of mould in your wind turbine.
Q: When is salt a problem, and why is it a problem?
A: Salt is a well-known corrosive agent. The other disadvantage of salt is that it absorbs humidity from the air and thereby accelerates the corrosion inside a structure.
Q: Why can’t I add more ventilation to the wind turbine? Will that not solve my issues with humidity?
A: By adding more ventilation, you will have the same humidity inside the turbine as you have outside. It is known from various studies that the humidity needs to be below 60%RH, to stop mould from growing. Most of the electronics works the best at a low humidity. Further, corrosion is also slowed down at a lower humidity than 60%, therefore it is better for the asset to have the humidity removed than just added ventilation.
Q: How dense is the structure of the turbine?
A: It depends on the original design. Typically, if you have placed the converter or transformer in the tower, you need air to cool the equipment during operations. If it is possible to mount dampers that close the air inlets, when the high airstream is not required, then it might be possible to protect the whole structure with an overpressure system. Otherwise, we will recommend a targeted dehumidifier solution.
Q: Can I get specific areas of the turbines protected against moisture and salt?
A: Yes. With dehumidifiers in various sizes, we can make targeted desalting and dehumidification of specific areas in the structure.
Q: Does dry-out time after grid-loss cause loss in production?
A: Yes, it does. Some OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer) requires a 24 hours dry-out period before the turbine can start producing again. The dry-out period cost energy, as the cooling water and heating elements inside the electrical cabinets requires power to get rid of the humidity. So instead of producing energy, the turbine is using energy. By adding a dehumidifier, we expect to be able to make the dry out time shorter, and we can make evidence-based startup when the humidity has reached a safe level. This is now being tested in the field.
Q: What are the overall strategies to protect a wind turbine for unwanted humidity?
A: In general, you have two options, depending on the design of the tower and nacelle. Suppose you have a closed design, with limited air infiltration in your structure. In that case, we can create a slight overpressure in the whole structure that prevents air from entering whilst we remove the salt and humidity from the air inside the structure. In this solution, you have protected the entire structure against mould, corrosion, creating an office-like environment for the electronics inside.
Suppose you have an open structure with a lot of air filtration. In that case, the best economical solution could be that we make targeted dehumidification of the area where you have the most valuable equipment. It is possible to dehumidify several areas in the WTG’s using small dehumidifiers.
Q: Besides in the turbine itself, can other parts of a wind farm be protected with a dehumidifier?
A: Besides WTG’s, we have made solutions for transition pieces (TPs) and substations. Furthermore, our solutions are used for transport and storage preservation by leading OEM’s globally as some turbine are exposed for extended periods before they become operational.
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