Wind park engineer goes sky high to troubleshoot

Digital multimeters, Renewable energy
Fluke Meter Helps in Installation of New Meteorological Tower | Fluke

A wind park in an isolated region of New Brunswick, Canada, towers 2,600 feet (793 m) above sea level and features more than thirty wind turbines. These turbines provide renewable power to nearby communities. A recently installed meteorological tower helps forecast and predict ice storms and other extreme weather events, such as the Great Ice Storm of 1998, which put large parts of Ontario, Quebec and New York State in a deep freeze.

Indeed, this wind park is renowned for being one of the worst places in the world for icing problems. Keeping the tower and turbines up and running is the job of site engineer Raphael Roy, who won the 2015 Fluke Legends contest in which customers wrote in about their experiences with digital mulitimeters and other Fluke tools. As the winner of the contest, the wind park won $10,000 worth of Fluke tools, which included:

  • Fluke 3000 FC General Maintenance System
  • Fluke Ti105 Thermal Imager for Industrial and Commercial Applications
  • Fluke a3001 FC Wireless iFlex® AC Current Clamp Kit
  • Fluke 124/S Industrial ScopeMeter® Hand Held Oscilloscopes with SCC120 kit
  • Fluke 805 Vibration Meter
  • Fluke 820-2 LED Stroboscope
  • Fluke T5-1000 Voltage, Continuity and Current Tester
  • Fluke 1000FLT Fluorescent Light Tester

"The multimeter permitted us to troubleshoot bad wiring, bad sensors and helped us in our commissioning report … saving us thousands of dollars in additional installation charges and millions of dollars in lost production," Roy said.

Troubleshooting is only part of his job. Roy also helps keep the park compliant with maintenance regulations. "Without Fluke tools, our maintenance and troubleshooting records and reporting would lack the accuracy required by regulatory bodies," he said.

The data from the meters allows Roy to prove to the relevant regulatory bodies that the park is following maintenance programs and that all systems are in working order. The tools help monitor substation operations as well as heat trace the turbines.

Here is Raphael Roy's Grand Prize winning submission:

Working in a wind park doing trouble shooting can be quite challenging sometimes. We installed a new meteorological tower with advance sensors up at 350 feet in the cold New-Brunswick mountains area. We needed a crane platform that costs over $10,000 per day, not counting all of the ground support team. We had some sensors that were not working correctly. We used the Fluke 289 true RMS multimeter to troubleshoot. Using the Fluke 289, including the wire pares and the low impedance and the diode check functions we were able to find damaged cables and bad sensors during the installation process rather than after (and having to reinstall equipment), saving a lot of time and money. As the new meterological tower is important to the operation of wind turbines that control icing mitigation equipment and if not working or calibrated properly, it would affect millions of dollars in production costs. During the cold winter months, its calibration is critically important. If the calibration is off, it could impact the operation of the wind turbines and energy production. The data logging function of the Fluke 289 true RMS multimeter and the ability to push all of the trends were essential in the commissioning process and our ability to verify proper instillation. The Fluke 289 permitted us to troubleshoot bad wiring, bad sensors and helped us in our commissioning report all in one compact instrument. Not forgetting also that it saved us tens of thousands of dollars in additional installation charges and millions of dollars in potential lost production.