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Seizing the "Dual Carbon" Opportunity, NGC Joins Hands with Mobil™ to Empower the Wind Energy Market

Published: 2024-07-02


Source: Author: Ran Xiaoran

With the development of wind energy installations towards large scale, the cost and difficulty of maintaining large wind turbine components are increasing significantly. In light of the rapid growth of the wind energy market and the large number of wind turbines coming out of warranty, the industry urgently needs innovative and efficient maintenance solutions for large equipment, in order to ensure the healthy operation of wind turbines and achieve cost reductions and improved efficiency in wind power generation.

Wind energy equipment "maintenance" is more important than "repair"

In recent years, the development of large-scale wind energy equipment has become a key measure in driving industrial innovation and upgrading.

According to CWEA data for 2023, the average capacity of newly added wind turbines nationwide was about 5.6MW, with offshore units reaching an average capacity of 9.6MW. Currently, the largest unit installed on land is 11MW, and for offshore wind turbines, it is 18MW. The demand for lower costs per kilowatt-hour is driving a continuous wave of technological leaps in large domestic wind turbines.

At the same time, large wind turbines also bring greater loads, higher strength, and durability challenges to the transmission system, directly promoting technical innovation and upgrades in large equipment such as gearboxes.

In this field, renowned domestic wind energy gearbox manufacturer NGC has leveraged its many years of experience in the wind energy industry along with its strong design and manufacturing capabilities. In February 2024, the company launched a 10MW front-end integrated 3P1H high-speed gearbox targeted at large onshore facilities in deserts and Gobi regions, as well as a 20MW fully integrated offshore drive chain megawatt gearbox, resonating with the industry trend towards larger scale solutions.

However, for the entire wind energy lifecycle, the challenges brought about by large-scale equipment extend far beyond the design and manufacturing stages. During the operational stage, there are also more complicated maintenance requirements, and higher demands for cost control. That is to say, with the high-quality development of wind energy and offshore wind energy moving towards deeper seas, and in order to allow the overall transmission system to maintain higher reliability and lower failure rates, the value of low-cost "maintenance" for large equipment such as gearboxes will be far greater than the high costs incurred by "repairs".

After 20 years of continuous focus on wind energy gearboxes and technical research and development, NGC has strengthened its technological innovation in terms of gearbox design, manufacturing and maintenance. It has also improved equipment maintenance and management, providing strong support for the full lifecycle reliability and safety of its gearboxes.

During the R&D stage, NGC has established a product development process based on VDA6.3, making full use of advanced design software for simulation and analysis to ensure optimum designs. In the manufacturing stage, high-quality materials and manufacturing processes are used to enhance the durability and reliability of the products, while during the testing stage, strict quality control and operational condition simulation tests, as well as wind farm turbine tests, are conducted to eliminate the vast majority of potential faults. International standards and authoritative third-party certifications are introduced to ensure that the products meet all relevant standards.

In the aforementioned R&D design and manufacturing testing stages, NGC always works closely with its customers in the product development phase, fully understanding the operational conditions of wind turbines and providing customized solutions. This improves the overall benefits of wind energy projects by ensuring better user experience and service quality, earning trust and recognition for the NGC brand through innovative capabilities and technical strength.

Large equipment requires high-quality "blood"

If innovation and rigor in the design and manufacturing stages are the innate genes that ensure the reliability of gearboxes, then the operation and maintenance products and services used during equipment operation are the key to extending the service life of gearboxes and improving operational stability. Of these, the lubricating oil, which acts as the "lifeblood" of all industrial equipment, plays a crucial role in terms of brand selection.

A member of NGC management stated that, when looking at performance indicators such as viscosity, flash point, antioxidant properties, and anti-emulsification, NGC must ensure that the oil used meets the lubrication needs of gearboxes under different working conditions. It must also be compatible with other materials inside the gearbox (such as paint, seals, etc.) to avoid chemical reactions that may affect lubrication performance.

Adhering to the highest selection standards, NGC has chosen to maintain a long-term relationship with ExxonMobil (China) Investment Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "ExxonMobil China"). The Mobil™ brand offers mature products and solutions for the critical lubrication needs of wind energy applications. Mobil's high-performance synthetic lubricants have shown outstanding performance across many years in terms of viscosity, stability, anti-foaming, and anti-pitting. In this way, they have been able to protect gears and bearings, thereby helping to extend the service life of gearboxes, and supporting the stable and reliable operation of wind turbines.

Since 2003, NGC and ExxonMobil China, two well-known companies, have been working together to verify the effects and experience of a series of oils in gearbox applications. NGC's continuous verification of new materials and oil compatibility has been of great help in terms of product development. Mobil™, with its high-quality products and services, has continuously supported product upgrades for both parties, offering a wider variety of choices to wind energy customers. In 2016, the cooperation between the two companies was further strengthened by large-scale, differentiated gearbox oil samples, laboratory testing, interpretation and summary, which enabled the creation of a set of gear oil specifications suitable for NGC's yaw and pitch systems. This helped improve industry standards for yaw and pitch oil use in China.

In 2023, ExxonMobil China and NGC signed an in-depth strategic cooperation agreement

In 2023, the two parties celebrated their 20th anniversary of cooperation, further deepening their strategic cooperation. They agreed to cooperate comprehensively, from early-stage lubrication consulting, mid-stage lubrication product verification and supply, to late-stage equipment management, operation and maintenance, thus steadily promoting the development of China's new industrialization.

Both parties continue to increase the application of intelligent digital technology in the field of wind energy lubrication. They are jointly exploring the practical applications of Mobil™smart monitoring solutions, providing global customers with intelligent lubrication management systems that cover the entire equipment lifecycle, helping them accelerate digital transformation and sustainable development.

The strategic cooperation between NGC and ExxonMobil China has lasted more than 20 years. Based on a common development philosophy, both parties are working together in a "strong alliance" to promote quality and efficiency in China's wind energy industry. Together, they will advance hand in hand on the path towards high-quality development.

Pursuing a high-quality future for the wind energy aftermarket

As digitalization continues to grow, technologies such as cloud computing, big data, IoT, and AI have grown into new opportunities to enhance quality and efficiency in wind energy operations and maintenance, driving high-quality industrial development. As a representative of the high-end manufacturing sector in the wind energy field, NGC is also seizing the opportunities of digital and intelligent transformation to empower the intelligent leap of wind energy gearbox operation and maintenance with innovative solutions and services.

NGC has introduced its proprietary CMS online monitoring system, incorporating IoT technology through sensors to monitor the operational status of gearboxes in real time, thus enuring predictive maintenance. Big data analysis has optimized maintenance plans and strategies, reducing unnecessary maintenance, while the development of intelligent diagnostic tools has enabled potential problems to be identified quickly and accurately, improving response speed and lowering maintenance costs.

NGC has launched its "QR code service," where users can clearly view parameters such as gearbox power, rotational speed, oil type and quantity, by scanning a QR code, enabling real-time online fault reporting and repair. This service significantly improves the operation and maintenance efficiency of wind energy gearboxes. Notably, NGC's operation and maintenance team has also developed a suite of on-tower maintenance tools, enabling on-site gearbox repairs and reducing maintenance costs.

The aforementioned series of measures bring immense value to the wind energy industry by improving equipment availability and reliability, enhancing gearbox efficiency and lifespan, and providing better user experience and service quality.

Since launching its aftermarket service business in 2019, and following years of continuous investment, intelligent retrofitting and upgrading, as well as global deployment of operation and maintenance capabilities, NGC's Aftermarket Division has acquired a full range of R&D capabilities. At the same time, it can boast complete total capabilities for up to a thousand units of gearboxes below 7MW.

NGC is creating a core set of competitive capabilities for aftermarket services based on professional innovation in on-tower and below-tower operation and maintenance technologies. In the future, it will also join hands with numerous partners, such as ExxonMobil China, to explore advanced operation and maintenance technologies and service models. In this way, the company will empower the high-quality and sustainable development of the wind energy aftermarket with new productivity.


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