Applications > Renewable Energy
The renewable energy industries are amongst today's fastest growing, helping to join up our increasing global energy demands, expected to grow by 50% between 2010 and 2030, and the desire for reducing the environmental impact of our energy generation mechanisms. Smart Fibres is pleased to be offering its technologies to support these vital global industries.
For wind energy converters to be economically viable, it is key that their efficiency and availability are maximised, and their operation and maintenance (O&M) costs minimised. Condition monitoring (CM) is becoming increasingly recognised by the industry as a means to increase availability and reduce O&M costs, and CM strategies are now commonplace in certain drivetrain components such as the bearings, gearbox and generator. The rotor blades are very suitable candidates for CM, whereby the severe and variable loads that each blade is subject to can be collected and used to calculate damage equivalent loads.
Such independent blade load monitoring can also detect rotor imbalance and lead to the early identification of problems before they cause costly consequential damage to the drivetrain. Furthermore, independent blade load monitoring can detect the formation of ice on the rotor blades and subsequent melting. Such information can lead to significant improvements in turbine availability in cold locations, whilst maintaining safe wind park operations. The benefits of optical fibre sensing make it an ideal technology for providing this load monitoring of rotor blades. However, in the past, the very narrow economic margins of the wind energy industry have made fibre optic blade monitoring prohibitively expensive. Smart Fibres' new low-cost interrogators break through this obstacle and offer a commercially sound value proposition for turbine asset managers.
As well as the above benefits, the same rotor blades loads data from such a measurement system can also be used to improve algorithms for independent blade pitching, a control mechanism which offers the potential of improved efficiency and reduced off-axis loading.
For more information on the technology application to blades and the benefits, please review the datasheet of our low-cost optical blade loads monitoring system.
This emerging and key renewable energy industry involves the conversion of the energy from marine currents and tides into electricity. This industry shares with wind energy the need for the monitoring of machine condition to improve performance, maximise availability, and increase service life. It also shares the same suitability for exploiting the benefits of optical fibre sensing in blade, drivetrain and foundation structures.
In certain waters, legislation demands that tidal turbine operators monitor the loading on their blades to determine the severity and frequency of impacts with marine life. With a blade loads system already installed for condition monitoring, such marine impact monitoring is available at no additional instrumentation expense.
Smart Fibres has a growing track record in this industry and is helping several developers with their prototype and pilot machine monitoring projects.