Commissioning, Operation and Maintenance

Once construction is completed, commissioning will begin. The definition of ‘commissioning’ is not standardised, but generally covers all activities after all components of the wind turbine are installed. Commissioning of an individual turbine can take little more than two days with experienced staff.

Commissioning tests will usually involve standard electrical tests for the electrical infrastructure as well as the turbine, and inspection of routine civil engineering quality records. Careful testing at this stage is vital if a good quality wind farm is to be delivered and maintained.

A function check

An onsite technician began commissioning procedures with the powering up of panels, a function check of balance of plant (BOP) components, a logic command and sequence check, and a sensor and actuator health check. Various problems were detected and located, such as the replacement of a faulty battery charger card, and the addition of a generator protection fuse in the alarm control board.

The liquid inlet line, air line and igniters were opened, and the units were dry cranked for five minutes to drive out dust or metal particles. The liquid fuel pump Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) panel HMI was configured, and the fire-suppression-system control heads were connected and made ready for start-up.

An attempt to start Unit A resulted in failure. Repeated start attempts confirmed that a signal was not reaching the VFD control panel. Two control wires were found to not have positive contact. These wires were tightened. Another attempted start-up led to the discovery of diesel leakage near the spark plug housing. A gasket was replaced and tightened.

In a subsequent start attempt, the unit achieved full power. During this test run, the doors of the enclosure were kept open to physically check and ensure no liquid fuel was leaking. Two more leakage sources were detected near the spark plug, which were handled.

Another test run of the unit ensured readiness for operation in liquid-fuel mode. The unit operated for about 15 minutes at full power. All major operating parameters (vibration, temperatures, and so forth) were well within limits.

About five minutes into a normal shut down, a mild boom was heard. An emergency shut off was carried out. Enclosure alarms indicated a fire in the enclosure. The CO2 suppression system had been in operation.

This confirmed an abnormal rise in temperature inside the enclosure. Subsequent inspection confirmed that a UV sensor inside the enclosure had been actuated. Fumes were spotted emanating from a burst portion of insulation mattress around the turbine portion flange joint.

Technicians made a short crank check of the unit to confirm there was no indication of rotor jamming and that the unit was mechanically healthy. The insulation mattress around the flange joint was opened to visually check hardware for any tell-tale leakage indications.

Dark brown patches were seen in the inside surface of the insulation mattress at the location where fumes emanated after the incident. This indicated trapped liquid fuel had burned outside the turbine flange joint actuating the fire-suppression system.

A further effort to start and load Unit A tripped on “ignition fail.” Troubleshooting indicated the igniter needed to be replaced, but no spare was available. Work was transferred to the commissioning of Unit B.

It took months for the needed components to arrive. Gas production levels were constrained because a standby unit was not available.