In Japan, 1,516 wind turbine accidents have been recorded between year 2004 and 2012, and 84% of them were for turbines in complex terrains. The longest downtime was associated with damage to main shafts or bearings with an average downtime of 5.7 months. Careful micro-siting in complex terrains can prevent these accidents from happening. The objective of the paper is to provide an intermediate step that allows consultants, developers, and wind farm owners to further evaluate micro-siting of wind turbines in complex terrains, prior to load simulations by manufacturers. The author developed a simplified method to predict fatigue life of a main rear bearing in direct drive wind turbines. The method uses hub-height 10 minutes wind data as an input. The validation with an actual accident showed practically good agreement of 12.0 years of the predicted life against 12.7 years of the actual life. The method was also applied to quantify the effect of a curtailment. The proposed curtailment increased the predicted life to 35.5 years with a relatively small range of wind speed at a direction of only I % frequency distribution. With the proposed method, it is possible to layout turbines where fatigue life of a main rear bearing is longer than its design life. The method can also be applied to existing turbines in order to spot turbines that require careful maintenance, and to consider an installation of condition monitoring system on a bearing.
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