More than 500 rotor bearings for offshore wind farms
energy concepts | Engineering | Smart energy | Sustainability and climate protection | The requirements placed on rotor bearings for offshore wind farms are enormous. thyssenkrupp still makes it possible – and has now produced over 500 bearings for Siemens wind farms in the North Sea.
In times of energy transition, wind turbines have become an integral part of Germany’s landscape. Today, almost 20 percent of all energy in the country is produced using the power of the wind. And with an installed capacity of around 56,000 megawatts, Germany ranks third in the world in terms of wind energy and number one in Europe. thyssenkrupp is right up front. Since 1998 we have delivered over 4,000 rotor bearings to all major manufacturers from our Lippstadt plant.
Modern wind turbines are often so complex that one bearing does not make it. So there are many different types, including  rotor,  yaw and  blade bearing.
Offshore farms: power to the wind!
Nevertheless, wind energy still holds great growth potential: of the almost 30,000 German wind turbines currently in operation, only around 1,200 are offshore – the remaining turbines are distributed inland. But far out in the North Sea the wind is extremely strong. The perfect place to generate wind power, because as well as churning up the ocean, the wind also turns the turbines’ rotor blades.
An anniversary that points the way
That is why thyssenkrupp has been working with Siemens Gamesa on offshore wind farms since 2014, especially in the Belgian North Sea. In spring 2018,, the team in Lippstadt celebrated a very special anniversary in the context of this major project – the 500th rotor bearing delivered. Since the beginning of the cooperation, thyssenkrupp in Lippstadt has now produced over 550 units with an output of 6 to 8 megawatts for the Siemens wind farms on the open sea. The capacity installed under the project to date is sufficient to supply over 2 million households.
A reason to celebrate: By spring 2018, the Lippstadt team produced an impressive number of 500 rotor bearings for the offshore parks in the North Sea alone.
Offshore – a real challenge
The demands for offshore farms are much greater than for wind turbines on land. So the bearings are fitted with more bolts and larger rolling elements to withstand greater forces. They are also fully coated with a highly corrosion-resistant coating. After all, rust is the last thing that wind turbines far out in the sea should suffer from. With the immense cost of repairs and replacement of parts offshore, the components have to meet extremely high requirements.
Rotor bearing are constantly improving
Good that a new production control system at our Lippstadt plant has increased efficiency in rotor bearing assembly while minimizing production time and cost. Since the first bearings were shipped, we were able to increase production volumes significantly through a continuous process optimization.
Highly complex production: since 1998, thyssenkrupp has been developing and producing rotor bearings for a wide variety of wind turbine types in Lippstadt.
The rotor bearings – each up to four meters in diameter and over 14 tons in weight – leave the plant sealed and ready-to-install. Like all bearings for wind energy, the rotor bearings are tailored 100 percent to Siemens’ requirements. Our partner is installing the bearings at its new plant in Cuxhaven. The offshore wind farm will then be built.
All eyes on number 1,000
It has been over 4 years since we developed and tested the prototype for volume production in close cooperation with Siemens. Today, we don’t stop to jointly optimize the rotor bearing in a continuous improvement process, bringing together experience from the field and knowledge from research and development. So rotor bearing number 550 is far from the end of the line!
Bearings: a must for all kinds of turns
Incidentally, bearings can do more than just ensure that wind turbines runs smoothly. Whether in the heart of the Gotthard mountain, on huge oil tankers or very special cruise ships – our developers are working on some of the most exciting engineering projects in the world.