Theses Doctoral

Forecasting Wind Turbine Failures and Associated Costs

Ozturk, Samet

Electricity demand is rapidly increasing with growth of population, development of technologies and electrically intensive industries. Also, emerging climate change concerns compel governments to seek environmentally friendly ways to produce electricity such as wind energy systems. In 2018, the wind energy reached 600 GW total capacity globally. However, this corresponds to only about 6% of global electricity demand and there is a need to increase wind energy penetration in electricity grids. One way to enhance the competitiveness of wind energy is to improve its reliability and availability and reduce associated maintenance costs.
This study utilizes a database entitled “Wind Monitor and Evaluation Program (WMEP)” to investigate, model and improve wind turbine reliability and availability. The WMEP database consists of maintenance data of 575 wind turbines in Germany during 1989-2008. It is unique as it includes details of turbine model and size, affected subsystem and component, cause of failure, date and time of maintenance, location, and energy production from the wind turbines. Additional parameters such as climatic regions, geography number of previous failures and mean annual wind speed are added to the database in this study. In this research, two metrics are considered and developed such as time-to-failure or failure rate and time-to-repair or downtime for reliability and availability, respectively. This study investigated failure causes, effects and criticalities of wind turbine subsystems and components, assessed the risk factors impacting wind turbine reliability, modeled the reliability of wind turbines based on assessed risk factors, and predicted the cost of wind turbine failures under various operational and environmental conditions.
A well-established reliability assessment technique - Failure Modes, Effects and Criticality Analysis is applied on the WMEP maintenance data from 109 wind turbines and three different climatic regions to understand the impacts of climate and wind turbine design type on wind turbine reliability and availability. First, climatic region impacts on identical wind turbine failures are investigated, then impacts of wind turbine design type are examined for the same climatic region. Furthermore, we compared the results of this investigation with results from previous FMECA studies which neglected impacts of climatic region and turbine design type in section 5.4.
Two-step cluster and survival analyses are used to determine risk factors that affect wind turbine reliability. Six operational and environmental factors are considered for this approach, namely capacity factor (CF), wind turbine design type, number of previous failures (NOPF), geographical location, climatic region and mean annual wind speed (MAWS). Data are classified as frequent (time-to-failure<40 days) and non-frequent (time-to-failure>80 days) failures and we identified 615 operations listing all these factor and energy production from 21 wind turbines in the WMEP data base. These factors are examined for their impact on wind turbine reliability and results are compared.
In addition, wind turbine reliability is modeled by machine learning methods, namely logistic regression (LR) and artificial neural network (ANN), using the considered 615 operations. The objective of this investigation is to model and predict probability of frequently-failing wind turbines based on wind turbines’ known operational and environmental conditions. The models are evaluated and cross validated with 10-fold cross validation and prediction performances and compared with other algorithms such as k-nearest neighbor and support vector machines. Also, prediction performances of LR and ANN are discussed along with their easiness to interpret and share with others.
Lastly, using data from 753 operations, a decision support tool for predicting cost of wind turbine failures is developed. The tool development includes machine learning application for estimating probability of failures in 60 days of operation and time-to-repair probabilities for divisions of 0-8hrs, 8-16hrs, 16-24hrs and more than 1 day based on operational and environmental conditions of wind turbines. Prediction for cost of wind turbine failures for 60 days of operation is calculated using assumed costs from time-to-repair divisions. The decision support tool can be updated by the user’s discretion on the cost of failures.
This study provides a better understanding of wind turbine failures by investigating associated risk factors, modeling wind turbine reliability and predicting the future cost of failures by applying state-of-the art reliability and data analysis techniques. Wind energy developers and operators can be guided by this study in improving the reliability of wind turbines. Also, wind energy investors, operators and maintenance service managers can predict the cost of wind turbine failures with the decision support tool provided in this study.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Fthenakis, Vasilis M.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 3, 2019