What have we forgotten in the race to decarbonise?

Are we in danger of abandoning hard won engineering expertise and missing opportunities to make straightforward carbon savings?

A 2 million tonne CO2 opportunity

The core technology that has done the bulk of the heavy lifting in electrifying the world, the 130-year-old steam turbine, does not appear front and centre in most decarbonisation technology roadmaps.

However, we should not disregard the body of knowledge built to develop a technology that irrefutably changed the world.

Much like wind turbines, steam turbines are assembled with a series of large bolts and fasteners.

Unlike wind turbines, steam turbines must deal with severe pressure and temperature cycles, thermal creep, significant differential thermal expansion, and high frequency vibrations.

The severity of catastrophic steam turbine failures, both from a safety and commercial perspective, are typically orders of magnitude higher than wind turbine structural failures.

How is it therefore, that steam turbine fasteners are a fit and forget component for well over ten years of operation whilst wind turbine bolted connections are checked and retightened every year?

This failure to transition scientific and engineering knowhow the short step from one power generation technology to another, often within the same manufacturer or utility, represents a massive, missed opportunity in the race to decarbonise society.

Globally, 350,000 wind turbines require annual shutdown to check and tighten bolted connections, foregoing 4 terawatt hours of carbon free electricity and the opportunity to offset around 2 million tonnes of CO2.

At EchoBolt it is our vision to enable wind turbine operators to safety transition away from routine bolt retightening, recovering the associated lost production and accelerating the transition to carbon free power generation.

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