entry image

The role of gearboxes in photovoltaic and wind power systems

Energy generation is a hot topic worldwide as is the pressing need to employ technologies that use clean and renewable energy sources. Among the latter, photovoltaic and wind power are key strategies.


It is known that photovoltaic systems are made by assembling several photovoltaic modules to transform the energy produced by solar radiation directly and instantaneously into electricity without the need to use fuel. The basic components of a photovoltaic system are the solar cells that make up the photovoltaic module, the photovoltaic generator, the power conditioning and control system (i.e., the inverter), and the energy storage system.


Wind power plants, on the other hand, are advanced systems that convert wind power into electricity. They consist essentially of four basic parts:


The nacelle: This is the element placed on top of the tower. It is connected to the rotor that includes the speed increaser, power generator, yaw system and control system.


The multiplier: Motion is transmitted from the rotor to the electric generator through a speed multiplier that raises the rotational speed from about 30/60 rpm, which is insufficient to produce electricity, to 1500 rpm.


The generator. This is the system that transforms mechanical rotation energy into electricity.


The yaw system. To ensure constant alignment between the rotor axis and the wind and make maximum use of energy, large systems are equipped with a servomechanism that orients the nacelle according to the wind direction and intensity data recorded by the anemometer and processed by the control system.


Offering efficient technological solutions for energy production with low environmental impact to the market is important and Varvel has been committed to supplying high-performance gearboxes for photovoltaic and wind power systems for some time.


Gearboxes for clean energy production: the needs to be met

The main need that wind and photovoltaic system manufacturers are called to meet is related to optimizing the relationship between investment costs and the energy that the system actually produces. Varvel responds to this requirement by offering high-quality gearboxes that minimize system efficiency losses caused by dissipations in the energy conversion process.


Varvel gearboxes for the wind and photovoltaic sectors are also extremely reliable and provide long service life with little maintenance. Rugged and durable even in particularly harsh weather and usage conditions, they tolerate temperature fluctuations well. Their modular design and compact size make them easy to integrate into even the most complex systems.


Importantly, the range of gearboxes for the power industry meets the highest quality requirements, as Varvel achieved Environmental System Certification according to UNI EN ISO 14001 as early as 2001.


Varvel gearboxes for wind and photovoltaic systems

By collaborating with leading manufacturers of high-power industrial planetary gearboxes, Varvel has gained extensive experience in the manufacture of special worm gearboxes for wind turbines. Used as the first stage of industrial planetary gearboxes, Varvel solutions allow the optimal azimuthal rotation of the yaw system on multi-megawatt towers.


More in detail, Varvel worm gearboxes are connected to the industrial planetary gearboxes of the wind turbine nacelle rotation system, allowing it to operate flawlessly and safely even in presence of strong gusts of wind or sudden changes in direction.


For the photovoltaic sector, on the other hand, Varvel specializes in the production of worm gearboxes for solar trackers, which significantly improve the power output of photovoltaic modules. The Varvel worm gearboxes allow the solar tracker to work in either single-axis mode (i.e., with exclusive rotation in the horizontal axis) or dual-axis mode (i.e., with simultaneous rotation in the horizontal and vertical axes). In this way, the panels can be placed facing the sun all day.


Worm gearboxes can be used to obtain dual-axis solar trackers, which allow the photovoltaic system to achieve maximum power output very fast (about two hours after sunrise) and maintain it until about two hours before sunset. This means up to 30% higher efficiency compared to fixed photovoltaic systems of similar capacity.


Furthermore, Varvel makes gearboxes for photovoltaic applications that are IP66 rated and certified to withstand even the worst weather.


You can find out more about Varvel applications for wind and photovoltaic systems on the dedicated page.