– Focus – Extending the life of renewable energy assets
Extending the life of renewable energy assets
Water represents one of the largest sources of renewable energy on our planet. For over 2’000 years, water has been harnessed to power machines, and more recently to generate electricity. Today, using the latest engineering techniques, we are able to achieve new levels of efficiency and reliability for hydropower stations, ensuring the future of this sustainable form of energy production. Sulzer helps hydropower stations to maximize output and extend their operational life by decades, thereby accelerating the world’s transition to renewable energy.
From waterwheels and windmills to wind turbines and solar power, renewable energy sources have been utilized for centuries. In 1878, William Armstrong used water in lakes on his estate in Northumberland, UK, to power a turbine and create electricity to light his house — the first home in the world to use hydroelectricity. Soon after, in 1882, the world’s first hydroelectric power plant began operating in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA.1)
The hydropower landscape
Today, over 70% of the world’s renewable electricity is generated using hydropower,2) and all of these sites need to be carefully maintained to ensure optimum performance.
Sulzer has been a leader in the maintenance and repair of generators and pumps in hydroelectric power stations for decades. Our expertise, products and modern manufacturing and maintenance facilities enable us to deliver on the very high standards required by the hydroelectric industry. The testing criteria for key components are more stringent than in any other sector, primarily because of the remote locations of these sites and the need for superior durability and reliability.
Maximizing the efficiency of ageing equipment
A rewind gives our customers in hydropower and other power-generation industries the opportunity to renew their ageing equipment to maximize efficiency and sustainability. Rewinds and retrofits can significantly lower energy consumption, operating costs and waste, while improving the performance of the whole system — thanks to the world-class efficiency of Sulzer’s products.
In many cases, when a generator needs to be rewound, the work has to be completed on-site because the size of the equipment makes it very difficult to remove and transport to a service center. It is therefore essential to have experienced and skilled field service teams that can be mobilized to complete a repair quickly and minimize downtime.
These skills were highlighted in a recent project that Sulzer completed for Statkraft, which operates several hydroelectric sites in the UK. In operation since 1965, the Dinas hydropower station utilizes a single 13.5 MW (18’100 hp) generator to produce 24 GWh of electricity each year, enough to power approximately 3’500 homes. Following a winding failure, Statkraft awarded an overhaul project to Sulzer for the complete repair and refurbishment of the generator.
Expert support from local teams
The team at Sulzer’s Birmingham service center designed, manufactured and tested 220 new high-voltage coils destined for the generator. Four coils were tested to destruction to establish and prove the quality of the new coils, according to the demanding specifications for hydroelectric applications. We also assigned two teams of winders to the project to work around the clock and ensure the generator repair was completed as quickly as possible. The teams were drawn from Sulzer’s network of service centers across the UK, including Falkirk, Ipswich and Middlesbrough.
Moreover, our investment in the latest technologies saved six days on the rebuild time because three brazing stations could operate simultaneously, allowing the process to be completed quicker than with traditional methods. As a result, Statkraft was able to restart its generator with minimum downtime, knowing that it will provide years of reliable and optimized service to ensure uninterrupted renewable electricity for the people of Wales.
As the world increasingly moves towards sustainable practices, Sulzer’s Services division will continue to meet the growing demand for repairs, retrofits and rewinds to help our customers accelerate the global energy transition and maximize the efficiency and sustainability of their operations.