Global standard for gearboxes in 2MW+ turbines

New standard responds to trend towards larger machines

The first international standard applicable to 2MW+ wind turbines' gearboxes has been launched, on the back of the industry’s rising use of larger turbines, especially offshore.

IEC 61400-4 has been developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), replacing the ISO 81400-4 standard from 2005. It provides guidance on the analysis of turbine loads in relation to the design of the gear and gearbox elements.

As well as extending its scope to wind turbines above 2MW capacity, the new standard also includes requirements on the testing and validation of gearbox designs.

"Work has started on IEC 61400-3-2, which deals with floating wind turbines," a spokesperson for IEC told Windpower Offshore, "but it is too early to give a precise date of publication."

Sandy Butterfield, chairman of the TC88 committee that led work on the IEC 61400-4 standard, said: "Ultimately in the wind energy business, all wind turbines end up being certified; it's a market imperative. All wind turbine designers who know that their product is going to be shipped internationally will design to IEC standards, because they can't possibly design to the range of national standards that are out there."

Both gearless and geared turbine models are used offshore. Among the larger machines currently under development, both Samsung’s 7MW and Vestas’ 8MW turbines have gearboxes, while Siemens’ 6MW model is gearless.

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