Fabio Zanella, Head of the Wind Energy department at Klüber Lubrication, explains how lubricants contribute to more efficiency and lower wind energy production costs.
The global importance of wind power for a sustainable supply of energy
According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) as much as 637 millions tons of CO2 was avoided worldwide in 2016 by using wind energy. This roughly corresponds to 2 % of the worldwide energy-related CO2 emissions of 32.5 gigatons. Apart from resource consumption of their customers, operators of wind turbines have to see about their own sustainability balance, i.e. the direct impact on environment and resources.
Wind energy production costs are a key performance indicator
Wind energy is not for free. Hardly surprising, wind power stations as highly complex machines cost several million euros. As they compete with other energy carriers it is even more important that high investments in this sector pay off.
A key performance indicator of the wind energy industry is the so-called LCoE (Levelized Cost of Electricity). It represents the unit-cost of electricity today, taking into account the full life of the asset. Moreover, it is the basis for the decision to invest or not in a wind power station. The lower the LCoE, the cheaper wind power is compared to fossil sources of energy.
Decreasing the LCoE is the main challenge
The main challenge of the wind industry is to decrease the LCoE. Once this is achieved, wind will be pushing out fossil fuels from the energy matrix.
"The successful approach to decreasing LCoE is not manufacturing cheap wind turbines. Cheap and low-performance components would rather aggravate the problem and damage the competititiveness of wind energy"., says wind energy expert Fabio Zanella.
Also, creating even larger wind turbines requires tremendous performance on the part of the components: "With rotor diameters of more than 200 metres, the size of the bearings will be easily larger than 3 metres and in some cases blade bearings could go to 8 metres or more. Such bearings have to work with as much precision as small bearings in an electric motor.“
The way to overcome this challenge is technological development. Lubricants can contribute to that goal and help make wind energy more competitive.
Increasing the lifetime of wind turbines is crucial
Future wind turbines have to become larger, more efficient, and more reliable in order to sustainably reduce LCoE. To this end, it is essential to increase the lifetime of wind turbines.
However, it is not only dimension that is a challenge, the reliability of the components is also important. LCoE will not forgive failures. That means the bearings of the wind turbine have to work properly for more than 25 years, ensuring reliability as well availability of the system. This is key for decreasing LCoE and increasing the attractiveness of the energy source.
Lubricants are key in raising efficiency
Based on his experience, Zanella acknowledges the importance of lubricants for the wind industry: "Lubricants are vital for increasing the efficiency of wind turbines and reducing LCoE of wind energy. Modern speciality lubricants are required to make the next generation of turbines run smoothly and for a long time."
As a leading lubricant specialist like Klüber Lubrication can ideally support wind energy operators worldwide in reducing the LCoE. We achieve this by supplying the lubricants that will provide the required performance in the next generation of wind turbines, ensuring a long and reliable operation.
Lubricants made by Klüber Lubrication help reduce transport costs and emissions
Another factor that should not be considered secondary is the supply chain: "It must be a global one. Both the demand for energy and the wind resources are scattered around the globe. Therefore, low-emission logistics opens up further potential for the use of wind energy."
A global presence can contribute to sustainability by reducing the need for the long-distance transport of machinery and equipment. Local energy supply can play a big role in reducing CO2 emissions. Products made by Klüber Lubrication are available in many countries around the world, thus helping you to save transport costs and CO2.
Using the wind turbine lubricants from Klüber Lubrication you will not only succeed in reducing LCoE of wind energy, but you will also stay competitive vis-à-vis other energy carriers.
Make use of our expertise in order to to learn about how to increase the efficiency of your wind turbines!
Committed to a sustainable use of resources
As a matter of conviction we are a member of the UN Global Compact, the worldwide biggest corporate initiative for sustainability. Rather than limiting ourselves to resource-saving production as well as environmental and occupational safety , we strive to maximise the sustainable impact of our products both at our own production sites and at the customers' sites.
At our production site in Austria we are using regional green energy from small hydropower plants for the benefit of the environment , thus making a substantial contribution to a low-emission energy supply.
For the transport of goods between our production site in Munich and our logistics center at Maisach Maisach, we will be using the green energy of electric vehicles and have upgraded our infrastructure accordingly.
We fitted our production site in Mexico with a photovoltaic system 2,800 square metres in size, enabling us to save more than 200 tons of carbon dioxide per year.
The example of our customer InterCement in Brazil shows that our lubricants are able to protect the climate, increase efficiency and drastically reduce costs.
Our sustainability report provides detailed information on our commitment for the environment and the climate.