Energy, wind power
Energy, wind power

Absolute reliability for onshore and offshore wind farms

Modern wind power plants produce approximately 20 times more electricity than plants 20 years ago, all with a simultaneous reduction in cost. Still, wind farms are a substantial capital outlay that demand high availability for a dependable return on investment. To ensure this, all system components must operate with extreme reliably.

For many years, Balluff has worked together with leading turbine manufacturers to develop sensors, measurement systems, and associated solutions tailored to the specific requirements of the wind energy industry, in both onshore and offshore wind farms.

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Application examples

  • Orient nacelles to the wind

    Reliable and cost-effective solution for higher wind power plant efficiency

    The solution

    To achieve maximum efficiency in wind power plants, the turbine nacelles must be oriented to the prevailing wind. Balluff's inductive proximity sensors detect the position directly at the gear ring of the azimuth adjustment and make it possible to reliably move the nacelle to the optimum position.

    Balluff's robust sensors are ideally suited for inexpensively and redundantly supplementing the primary feedback from a rotary encoder. In contrast to rotary encoders, inductive proximity sensors mount simply and require special couplings.

    The features

    • Rugged, fully-potted electronics
    • Shock- and vibration-resistant
    • Non-contact and wear-free for long service life
    • Suitable for wide temperature and humidity fluctuations
    • Corrosion-resistant stainless steel housings
    Energy, wind power, orienting nacelles in the wind
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  • Hydraulic pitch control for turbine blades

    High-reliability position feedback for pitch control cylinders

    The solution

    Reliable turbine blade pitch control is essential for speed regulation, peak energy production, and safe operation. An extensive worldwide installed base is testament to the dependability of Balluff's magnetostrictive linear position cylinder sensors. These hydraulic pitch control sensors undergo rigorous in-house destructive testing during development. Analysis of test specimens reveals potential high-stress failure modes, which are subsequently designed out of the final product. Balluff's expertise in developing robust linear position sensors has lead turbine manufacturers the world over to trust Balluff as the preferred hydraulic pitch control sensor supplier.

    The features

    • Non-contact, wear-free operation for long service life
    • Pressure-rated to 600 bar
    • Developed to withstand high levels of shock, vibration, and thermal stress
    Energy, wind power, checking the position of hydraulic cylinders
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  • Minimize wear in bearings and drive trains

    Longer service life thanks to reduction of imbalances and wind loads

    The solution

    Imbalances and wind loads shorten the service life of the bearings and the drive train of wind turbines. Balluff's distance-reading analog inductive proximity sensors monitor variation in the spaces between components in critical locations. When excessive stresses are detected, corrective action can be taken to reduce loads and prevent premature wear and damage that would otherwise shorten equipment life.

    The features

    • Non-contact and wear-free for long service life
    • Compact designs for easy integration
    Energy, wind power, minimizing wear in bearings and drive trains
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  • Monitor rotor speed

    Protect wind turbines against overspeed

    The solution

    Balluff's rugged inductive proximity sensors report the rotor speed of wind turbines. Two inductive sensors monitor the movement of the holes in the locking plate, thus measuring the rotational speed and detecting the direction of rotation of the rotor.

    The features

    • Rugged, fully-potted electronics immune to contamination
    • Shock- and vibration-resistant
    • Non-contact and wear-free for long service life
    • Suitable for wide temperature and humidity fluctuations
    • Extended low temperature range to -40° C
    Energy, wind power, monitoring rotor speed
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  • Precise measurement of rotor speed, direction, and position

    Extremely accurate measurement of rotor speed, rotational direction, and determination of rotor lock position

    The solution

    Balluff's magnetic encoder systems can report the speed of wind turbine rotors with extreme accuracy, even at low speeds. The magnetic tape measurement system is simply wrapped around and attached to the main shaft. The system communicates standard quadrature incremental encoder signals that are compatible with many control systems. The encoder system can determine the direction of rotation and can also provide position feedback to determine the correct position to engage the rotor lock for service.

    The encoder system operates without mechanical contact between the reader head and coded track. The generous reading distance of the system tolerates real-world variability in concentricity about the rotational axis, increasing installation flexibility and reducing costs.

    The features

    • Adaptable to a wide range of shaft diameters, including very large shaft sizes
    • Simple, space-saving installation
    • Non-contact, wear-free operation for long service life
    • Extremely accurate, even at very low speeds
    Energy, wind power, speed measurement
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  • Monitor generator or alternator shaft speed

    Maintain precise shaft speed regulation

    The solution

    Regulating generator or alternator shaft speed is critical to controlling the power quality being fed into the grid. Balluff's magnetic ring encoder operates without mechanical contact between the reader head and coded ring. The generous reading distance of the system tolerates real-world variability in concentricity about the rotational axis, increasing installation flexibility and reducing costs.

    The features

    • Systems available for a wide range of shaft diameters, including very large shaft sizes
    • Simple, space-saving installation
    • Non-contact, wear-free operation for long service life
    • High counts per revolution for precise speed regulation
    Energy, wind power, monitoring generator speed
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  • Verification of maintenance position for rotor lock cylinders and blade pitch cylinders

    Reliable confirmation of rotor lock and pitch cylinder status

    The solution

    During maintenance procedures, for personnel and equipment safety, the wind turbine shaft must remain at a standstill with the rotor blades feathered out of the wind. Balluff's hydraulic pressure-rated inductive sensors report the extended/retracted end-of-stroke position of rotor locking cylinders and pitch control cylinders.

    The features

    • Pressure rated to 500 bar
    • Installed directly into the pressurized areas of hydraulic cylinders to monitor piston position
    • Stainless steel housings resist corrosion
    • Analog version for soft stop upon reaching end-of-stroke
    Energy, wind power, pitch adjustment of the blades of wind turbines
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  • Monitor wind turbine tower deflection

    Angle sensors report excessive tower deflection during high wind conditions

    The solution

    Strong gusts of wind and sustained high winds during storms can exert strong forces on the tower of a wind turbine. Balluff's inclination sensors offer non-contact angle measurement to indicate the deflection from vertical and the corresponding amount of stress on the tower structure.

    The features

    • Detects the change in angle with respect to the horizontal
    • High accuracy over a measurement range up to 360° (one rotation)
    • Compact, robust metal housing enables simple installation
    • Absolute measuring signal: correct position reported upon power up
    Energy, wind power, monitoring tower inclination of wind turbines
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  • Monitor disk brake pad and rotor wear

    Simple maintenance and longer service life thanks to automatic monitoring

    The solution

    Disk brakes are used at various locations in wind turbines. Balluff's distance-reading analog inductive proximity sensors directly monitor disk wear at the braking surfaces. They also monitor brake pad wear by reporting the excursion of the metallic backing plate during braking operations. The data reported by these analog sensors can be monitored continuously and used for scheduling preventive maintenance at the appropriate time, neither too early nor too late.

    The features

    • Absolute, continuous distance measurement to metallic targets
    • Non-contact and wear-free for long service life
    • Wide selection of analog measuring ranges
    • Compact designs for easy integration
    Energy, wind power, monitoring disk brakes
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  • Monitor the fill levels of oil and coolant

    Maintain reliability for your gearbox, hydraulic systems, and cooling systems

    The solution

    Optimum fill levels should always be maintained in the expansion tanks gearboxes, hydraulic systems, and cooling systems. Balluff's capacitive level sensors detect the maximum and minimum fill levels without direct contact to the media, either through the container wall or with the help of mounting adapters. They can also be installed in the oil pan as a leak sensor and will reliably report the presence of oil where it shouldn't be.

    The features

    • Rigorous destructive testing and design ensures reliability
    • Non-contact level detection through plastic container walls
    • Versions to detect oil- or water-based fluids
    Energy, wind power, monitoring the fill levels of oil and coolant
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