How to Salvage Useful Parts From Broken Wind Turbines
Wind turbines are complex machines with many valuable parts that can be salvaged and reused even after the turbine itself has stopped functioning. As more wind farms reach the end of their operational lifetimes, salvaging turbine components is becoming an increasingly important part of the wind industry. This guide will provide tips on how to identify and remove useful parts from non-operational wind turbines.
Dismantling wind turbines requires proper safety precautions. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:
- Use fall protection harnesses and tie off to the turbine when working at height.
- Wear appropriate PPE like hard hats, safety glasses, and steel-toed boots.
- Know how to safely use rigging, lifting, and climbing equipment.
- Disable and lockout electrical systems before beginning work.
- Cordon off the area around the turbine to prevent unauthorized access.
- Have an emergency action plan and means to communicate with emergency services.
- Conduct regular safety training for all crew members.
Putting safety first is crucial when salvaging turbine components. Don't attempt this work without proper training, equipment, and preparations.
Assessing Component Condition
Before removing any parts, conduct a thorough inspection of the turbine's major components. This allows you to identify items that can be profitably salvaged. Consider the condition of:
Generator and Electronics
- Check for burn marks or discoloration on wiring and connections.
- Examine circuit boards and electronic controls for damage.
- Test generator windings for continuity and ground faults.
- Inspect for leaking seals or cracked housings.
- Check the oil for metal contamination.
- Turn geartrain by hand to feel for rough spots.
- Look along blade for splits, cracks, or punctures.
- Verify blade bonding to hub remains intact.
- Ensure pitch control system is functional if present.
- Check for major dents, bending, or buckling.
- Look for cracked welds or bolts at section joints.
- Inspect base and foundation for stability and defects.
Documenting the state of all major components helps determine which are suitable for reuse.
Dismantling the Turbine
Once you've identified salvageable parts, follow these steps to safely dismantle the turbine:
1. Remove Rotor Blades
- Insert blade root pins to relieve load on bearings.
- Detach blade bolts at the hub.
- Use a crane and nacelle-mounted winch to lower blades to the ground.
2. Remove Drive Train
- Disconnect couplings between gearbox and generator.
- Remove bolts securing drive train and use overhead crane to lift out.
- Lower drive train components individually using nylon straps.
3. Remove Nacelle Components
- Detach wiring looms and electrical connections.
- Unbolt covers, panels, and hardware.
- Remove transformers, hydraulic pumps, cooling systems, etc.
4. Dismantle Tower Sections
- Rig climbing equipment and safety lines up tower interior.
- Detach flange bolts at each tower section in sequence.
- Use crane to lower tower segments individually.
Go slow and maintain safety throughout the dismantling process.
Refurbishing Salvaged Components
Once turbine sections are safely on the ground, inspected, and dismantled, it's time to refurbish salvageable components:
- Clean parts thoroughly - Remove grease, dirt, grime
- Conduct repairs - Weld cracked housings, rewind generators, replace bearings/seals
- Apply protective coatings - Paint, galvanize as needed
- Test and certify parts - Confirm functional integrity
- Package components - Crate or palletize for transport
Proper refurbishment makes components ready for reuse in other turbines or applications.
Finding Buyers and Arranging Transport
To profit from salvaged wind turbine parts:
- Contact wind farm owners looking for replacement components
- Market to wind turbine manufacturers - Gearboxes, generators, blades, etc.
- Advertise on industry forums and websites - Global Wind Network, WindExchange, etc.
- Partner with wind equipment resellers to broaden customer reach
- Organize logistics for protected transport of refurbished parts
Tap into established sales channels and transportation infrastructure to find buyers.
- Safety is paramount when salvaging from turbines - Follow rigorous procedures
- Methodically dismantle components after thorough inspections
- Refurbish, test, and certify salvaged parts to prepare for resale
- Connect with wind farm operators and equipment suppliers to find buyers
- Properly handling valuable turbine components gives them a second life
With care and effort, broken down wind turbines don't have to go to waste. Their parts can offset costs of new equipment. This salvage guide provides the information you need to conduct the process successfully.