Sensors in wind energy generation 

Wind energy has emerged as a pivotal player in the quest for sustainable and renewable energy sources as nations strive to meet net-zero commitments and reduce their carbon footprint.

At the heart of the turbines that are seen across landscapes and seascapes are a host of sensors and motion control systems that work to optimise energy production and ensure safety. Here we look at them in more detail.

Wind speed and direction sensors

Wind turbines are highly sensitive to wind speed. Too slow and they won’t generate enough power; too fast and they risk damage. Sensors are crucial for monitoring and adjusting turbine rotor speed and position, providing real-time data to help protect the turbine from excessive wind speeds and ensure safe and efficient operation.

Knowing the direction of the wind is equally vital and the yaw system is the component responsible for the orientation of the wind turbine rotor towards the wind. Position sensors, such as rotary encoders, provide feedback to the yaw drive mechanism, allowing it to make precise adjustments to keep the rotor facing the wind.

Vibration and strain sensors

Turbines are subjected to significant mechanical stresses. Vibration sensors collect continuous data on the vibrations experienced by turbine components during operation and this is analysed to assess the condition of the turbine. Patterns and anomalies in vibration data can indicate potential mechanical issues, helping in predictive maintenance which can prevent costly damage or downtime. Strain gauges measure deformation in structural components, such as the tower, blades, and support structures. They provide data on how much strain various components are experiencing, helping operators evaluate fatigue and stress levels over time

Temperature sensors

Wind turbines operate in diverse climates from the extreme heat of deserts to sub-zero environments. Temperature sensors and thermal switches ensure that critical components, such as gearboxes and bearings, remain within safe temperature ranges, preventing overheating or freezing. They are essential for ensuring the safe and efficient operation of the turbine, providing valuable data that identifies potential problems, optimises maintenance and extends the lifespan of critical components.

Remote monitoring and control

All the sensors are interconnected through advanced control systems. Data is transmitted in real-time to control centres, allowing operators to make immediate adjustments, fine-tune energy production and ensure the safety of the turbines. Sudden changes or unexpected deviations from normal operating parameters can trigger safety protocols, including shutting down the turbine to prevent damage.

Motion engineering solutions 

Motion control components are critical for optimising the performance of wind turbines. OEMs and engineers require motors to help control various functions, gearboxes to maximise the conversion of mechanical energy from the rotor into electrical energy, and slip rigs to enable the transfer of electrical signals and power between the stationary and rotating parts of the turbine. 

From individual sensors and switches to complete motion control systems, Variohm Group provides the precision and dependability essential to support the demand for reliable wind energy solutions. To learn more or discuss your specific application, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team.