Metal Shavings: The Bugbear of Wind Turbines

May 18, 2016

Lamar Light and Power Turbines
Credit Prowers Journal

A wind turbine east of Lamar, Colorado, went offline last week, reports The Prowers Journal. The culprit? Metal shavings. Repairs are expected to cost about $300,000.

General wear and tear on a turbine’s gearbox can cause metal shavings to be picked up in the filter. This is normal, and happens as a matter of course. But sometimes pieces are larger—as big as the tip of a finger—and they can hook into the gears. This causes torque pressure on the gears from the turbine blades. Turbines must then go off-line to avoid further damage. Insurance doesn’t cover wear and tear of parts, and there’s no insurance for downed power time.

This isn’t the first time metal shaving problems have shut down the wind turbines east of Lamar. The light plant has a fund for gearbox replacement costs. “We know this will happen from time to time, so we’re prepared for it,” the turbine’s superintendent said.