In West Texas we are use to high wind speeds. We also see a large number of wind turbines generating significant amounts of power. However, these high winds can be damaging.
Coy Harris, Executive Director of the American Wind Power Center, explained, “There’s sensors throughout the entire wind turbine and they’re monitoring a lot of different parameters on that, high winds, vibrations, oil temperatures, the speeds, everything like that.”
High winds can be damaging to our wind turbines which is why they’re programmed to protect themselves in these situations by shutting down.
Harris said, “On our particular wind turbine it’s got a cut off at 60 mph wind speed.”
The wear and tear of higher wind speeds takes a toll on wind turbines. In order to minimize this Harris take extra precautions.
He said, “However because of what we are out here and we have that wind turbine pretty much for display and whatnot, if the winds get up pretty high some thing over or close to 40 we will go out and manually turn it off just to simply save wear and tear on it because the amount of power you get out of those is phenomenal but the wear and tear is pretty rough on them.”
Remarkable computer programs are in place controlling various aspects of the equipment. Harris said on windy days the turbine try to limit the power being produced because the wind is a cubic function.
“If the wind is blowing say 20 mph and the wind turbine is putting out some pretty good power that and it sort of likes that and all of the sudden a big gust comes in at 40 mph the wind turbine has to handle 8 times the power without burning something us like the generator or anything like that so they’re very remarkable pieces of engineering.”