Barry Sutherland offers some expert advice on how to conduct an oil exchange on a wind turbine


ow do you change the oil on an operational wind turbine? Tis is a rather niche question, even for engineers well-versed in all-things

renewable. Te answer, it turns out, involves several steps – perhaps the most important being to “ask an expert”. One key expert in this sector is

Renewable Oil Services (ROS), which is a leading supplier of oil products and oil exchange services to the wind turbine industry, covering both the onshore and offshore wind markets. Te company has been carrying out gearbox and hydraulic oil exchanges on wind turbines across the UK and Ireland with the use of its specialised oil pump trucks for over 12 years. Back in 2013 it was the first company worldwide to carry out a vessel-mounted combined gear and hydraulic oil exchange on an offshore wind turbine using its specially designed and manufactured vessel-mounted pumping system.


Te specialised trucks and offshore

units are fully bunded and have an in-house developed oil heating, filtration and pumping system that allows the new gear oil products to be pre-filtered and heated to between 40⁰C and 55⁰C, which is for ease of pumping the viscous 320ct gear oil products up the 180m hoses to the wind turbine nacelle and into the gearbox. With the truck or vessel in place at the base of the turbine, ROS’s engineers start with winching their hoses up to the nacelle; from there they connect the waste oil hose and pumping system to the gearbox drain point or points and drain the full system of the old oil.


Te next steps to be taken depend on any oil sample results that show the contamination level of the gearbox oil, which will determine the level of system flushing required. Tere are four basic ‘levels’ of procedures that are followed.

Level 1 is a basic oil exchange with no flushing required, where a routine oil exchange is taking place with no or minimal contaminates currently found within the oil sample. Level 2 is an oil exchange with single flush: this is if low to moderate levels of contaminates are found in the oil sample. For this, a pre-defined system volume quantity of oil is used and this quantity will vary depending on the turbine and gearbox type. Te new oil is pumped up to the gearbox via a closed system. Te reason for carrying this out in a closed system is so as not to open the gearbox lid, as this one of the main points of contaminates being introduced into the gearbox itself. To achieve this closed system oil exchange the company uses specialised fittings to connect to the gearbox, keeping the gearbox lid sealed and contaminate free. Te oil enters the gearbox at between 40⁰C to 50⁰C to allow the operation of any internal system thermostats

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