Big gears and wind turbines: Why the U.S. needs its own turbine gear plants
As Vela Gear Systems CEO Noel Davis explains, the gears used in wind turbines are big. They can measure "in excess of 6 ft in diameter, while gearboxes weigh up to 20 tons." And the U.S. has more than 30,000 wind turbines in operation. Davis says that each year, some of these turbines need gearbox repairs or replacements.
In an article in WindPower Magazine, Davis describes the massive gear components needed in modern wind power generating stations. He says that a typical 200-ft high 1.5-MW wind turbine can use ring gears as tall as a person, and that the main-drive gearboxes have individual components that may weigh up to 10,000 pounds.
The key question is why not build these components in the U.S.?
Specifically, Davis believes it makes sense to start a turbine gear plant in Indiana:
“Wind farms are mostly in the middle of the Midwest. Steel comes mostly from the areas spanning Milwaukee to Pittsburgh, and skilled machinists needed for this business are found in automotive manufacturing states. These three circles intersectd in Indiana, an ideal location for this business."
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