Wind Safety: Is Your Turbine Up to Industry Standards?

The demand for greater safety in technology is growing worldwide. Proven and tested industrial automation products — including integrated safety functionality — increases the availability of wind turbine systems and coincidentally meeting stricter safety regulations. Modern safety concepts simplify the integration of fail-safe solutions into wind turbine systems.

Currently there is a concrete process seizing the wind energy sector, which will bring changes in production as well as in the electrical equipment of wind turbines. While there have been numerous proprietary solutions up to now, there is a different approach based on industrial standards and overall concepts.

With the automobile industry as a model and based on the principles of Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) and Totally Integrated Power (TIP), the holistic, open-system approach has already been implemented in the manufacturing industry.

Minimizing Risks with Fail-safe Systems

To achieve plant safety, the EC Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC must be compliant in the European Economic Area. The harmonized standards listed in the Journal of the European Union, conform to the safety requirements of the machinery directive and therefore significantly simplify the certification of wind turbines.

Nevertheless, non-harmonized standards should also be applied and taken into account, such as:

  • DIN EN 50308 “Wind turbines – Protective measures”
  • DIN EN 61400-1 “Wind turbines – Design requirements”

The Guideline 2010 “Guideline for the Certification of Wind Turbines” Germanischer Lloyd (GL Renewables Certification) also needs to be mentioned. Adhering to the requirements of chapter 2 “Safety System, Protective and Monitoring Devices” plays an important role in ensuring that the components of the wind turbine are always kept within their limit values. Appendix 2.C provides an overview of protection functions. Here 15 protection functions are listed with the required performance level according to EN ISO 13849-1.

List of protection functions (example) from GL Renewables Certification “Guideline for the Certification of Wind Turbines” Edition 2010 (with friendly permission of GL Renewables Certification)

The Simple, Fast Way to Reliable Wind Turbines

For risk assessment, Siemens offers comprehensive support by specialists. A free, internet-based “Safety Evaluation Tool” can be used by the turbine manufacturer to calculate the safety functions and to document the results in a report as machine documentation conforming to the standard. It provides simple and uniform handling for both standards EN ISO 13849-1 and EN IEC 62061.

For the safety technology, there is a portfolio of certified safety products available for the entire safety system. 

The generation of power using wind turbines profits from uniform automation based on communication with PROFINET. In terms of the system controller, Safety Integrated from Siemens represents an ideal solution because the safety technology can be integrated directly in the wind turbine.

Advantages of Integrated Safety Technology

Integration of safety technology into standard automation with “Safety Integrated” let turbine manufacturers benefit, because they require less hardware and the engineering is significantly simplified.

The result: Wind turbines can be implemented much faster and are easier to adapt to new requirements.

A balanced overall system with safety engineering and standard automation also improves competitiveness — downtimes are reduced significantly, while availability improves, thanks to extensive diagnostics options.

To acquire data, evaluate and react, there are fail-safe SIMATIC controllers as well as SIRIUS switchgear and SINAMICS drive technology available, which implement both, standard automation as well as safety technology on a common platform.

For controlling turbines, PC-based systems, such as Microbox SIMATIC IPC427C/D, in conjunction with the unique TÜV tested fail-safe, real-time software controller SIMATIC WinAC RTX F, is ideal.

PROFIsafe for the Simple Setup of Safety Technology

By using the PROFIsafe protocol, both standard and fail-safe data can be transferred on one bus cable. In conjunction with the central I/O, a fail-safe connection based on PROFINET between sensors, actuators and subsystems of a wind turbine and the controller is easy to establish. The distributed I/O also allows standard and fail-safe signals to be processed on the same hardware.

With Safety Integrated for the safety technology, embedded in the STEP 7 programming environment, different enabling circuits can be defined and all protection scenarios reproduced. Emergency-off or emergency-stop buttons, cable twisting, short-circuits, vibration and shock, incorrect blade angle, overheated generator and other safety-relevant operating values can be evaluated conveniently.

The product portfolio is completed with WinCC Open Architecture, which can be used as a service portal for wind turbines as well as a high-performance SCADA system for wind farms.

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Richard Lederer works in business development for wind automation at Siemens AG.

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