The main reason a wind farm is designed and built is of course to generate electricity so that it can be sold to the country’s grid system and the project not only pays for itself over its lifetime but makes a profit for its owners. Thinking about the operation and maintenance of the wind farm at a very early stage in design and procurement is crucial (but sometimes gets left out!).
Wind turbines usually come with a maintenance agreement for the first few years and they are also guaranteed for between 2 to 5 years, so that if any major component fails during that time the wind farm owner is properly compensated.
An important part of the maintenance or service agreement is what “availability factor” is stated. For example the manufacturer promises (or warrants) a time based availability of 95%, which means that over the course of 1 year the turbine must be “available to generate” for 346.75 days (assuming 365 days in that year). “Available to generate” does not mean that the turbine is actually generating though because the wind is unpredictable. We will discuss the difference between a “time based warranty” and a “yield based warranty” later.
The wind farm will also be monitored remotely from shore with a computer SCADA system to make sure everything is functioning correctly. Any faults and alarms will be highlighted to technicians.