THE GOVERNMENT sees wind energy as one of the key areas for the future power requirements of the country.
The construction industry is constantly being encouraged to build bigger, better, more efficient wind turbines to take advantage of one of the few abundant natural resources.
Although some have been built in the sea off the Northumberland and north Wales coasts, most of the UK's burgeoning wind farms are built in areas with difficult access and can prove difficult for operators to maintain.
With effective maintenance regimes vital for efficient energy production, even small problems can mean expensive downtime for the turbines.
Now Bedfordshire-based specialist SKF has developed a remote, online condition monitoring system for wind farms, which can give operators and maintenance contractors a continuous overview of a turbine's condition.
Its WindCon system is designed to meet the tough, physical demands for offshore wind farms, but would equally suit land applications.
Data from the monitoring system in the turbine head are transmitted to a supervisory analysis centre in a control room located anywhere convenient to the operator. This can then be used to produce a maintenance program.
The system is so sophisticated it can carry out the vibration monitoring of bearings and gearboxes, and pick up resonance problems, weak foundations and blade vibration.