Wind Turbine Condition Monitor

Laser Based Metrology for Wind Turbine Condition Monitor and Alignment, Durham University

The wind energy industry - designing and making turbines, erecting and running them – is growing fast and is set to expand as the world looks for more sustainable ways to generate electricity. Turbines are becoming cheaper and more powerful, with larger blade lengths that can utilise more wind and therefore generate more, bringing down the cost of renewable electricity.

Wind turbines are exposed to highly variable, harsh weather conditions, ranging from calm to severe winds, from tropical heat to arctic cold, as well as lightning, hail and snow. Because of these external variations, wind turbines undergo constantly changing loads and high mechanical stress unmatched in any other form of power generation. They therefore demand a high degree of maintenance to provide a safe, cost effective and reliable power output with acceptable equipment life.

The objective of this research is focussed on using laser based metrology techniques to capture the positional changes of wind turbines and aligning drivelines in service. A feature of most wind turbines is that, due to the flexibly mounted gearbox and generators, shaft positions vary greatly relative to each other as a function of load and rotational speed. The wind turbine’s operational parameters will be closely examined and the whole wind turbine image will be captured by remote laser scanner. Such large objects are difficult to digitize and some of the detail may not be clearly presented. The laser scanner can scan the turbine from different angles and all the images can be transformed into just one. We will use this 3D image to detect any misalignment between the shafts of the gearbox and the generator.


Awarded to: Qing Wang