1/1200 Wind Turbine Gearboxes fail and cost $200,000-$500,000

As a follow up to its “Breaking Blades” report, the wind insurer, GCube, has now issued a second report called “Grinding Gearboxes”.   In this report, GCube finds that “As the central component of the drive system, the gearbox has always been a critical interface and constitutes 13% of the overall value of the typical onshore wind turbine. Nonetheless, the current financial climate has led several major gearbox manufacturers to reconsider the manufacturing process from first principles, from forging to final inspection.  This rethink has contributed to market pressures that have seen some companies face insolvency, which, in turn, has presented a major issue for operators seeking repairs and component replacements following the end of the warranty period.  With approximately 175,000 geared turbines in operation in 86 countries worldwide, there are around 1,200 incidents of gearbox failure reported each year – one failure per 145 turbines per year – commonly ranging between $200,000 and $300,000 in insurance claims, in some unique cases exceeding $500,000.”

We continue to believe that wind turbine models proposed by industrial wind developers in Ohio in applications filed years ago are unlikely to be the models used in yet-to-be-built wind facilities.  The report from GCube appears to support that belief.

Specialist renewable-energy underwriter GCube Underwriting Limited has published an in-depth report, entitled Grinding Gearboxes, analyzing gearbox failure by addressing root cause, financial impact and proactive steps to mitigate the frequency and severity of downtime.

As the central component of the drive system, the gearbox has always been a critical interface and constitutes 13% of the overall value of the typical onshore wind turbine. Nonetheless, the current financial climate has led several major gearbox manufacturers to reconsider the manufacturing process from first principles, from forging to final inspection….

With approximately 175,000 geared turbines in operation in 86 countries worldwide, there are around 1,200 incidents of gearbox failure reported each year – one failure per 145 turbines per year – commonly ranging between $200,000 and $300,000 in insurance claims, in some unique cases exceeding $500,000.

It is therefore crucial that asset managers take proactive, preventative steps to ensure that this financial and operational risk is managed appropriately.

Following on from Breaking Blades, the Grinding Gearboxes report forms part of a series entitled Global Trends in Wind Turbine Downtime Events. It seeks not only to quantify the inherent risk and financial impact of gearbox failure, but also to promote knowledge sharing among GCube insureds and supporting insurance brokers with a view to minimizing that impact….

GCube gets to grips with grinding gearboxes.

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