Hermann Albers is president of the Federal German Wind Energy Association, and asserts that wind is the lowest-cost source of renewable energy on land. Even so, recent debate has put a question mark against the future level of public subsidies for this and other renewable energies in Germany. A vigorous debate is under way on the merits and demerits of subsidies paid under the current EEG Renewable Energy Law.
Irrespective of whether and at what level subsidies will continue, there are now numerous wind parks in operation – particularly in Northern Germany and Northern Europe – that must all be regularly maintained. Wind turbines extend up to 120 metres above ground level, and each drives a huge gearbox requiring special maintenance. The consequences of a tool forgotten and left behind in a gearbox are unthinkable. Hence the requirement for intelligent tool storage systems that instantly reveal by visual inspection whether anything has been left behind. A good example is the TCS Tool Control System (TCS) made by Stahlwille. The TCS tool holder has storage detents, each of which matches only one particular tool. The detent is of completely different colour to the surrounding material so the absence of a tool is instantly spotted, and the search can begin.
Special tools are also required for manufacture of the huge rotor blades, ground to the correct profile by angle grinders having a high-speed particle evacuation system. They are used on glass fibre and carbon fibre rotor blades, from which an angle grinder operating under high load and subject to rapid wear, abrades large quantities of material. It will be interesting to see what toolmakers can offer to deal with this highly specialised requirement. Angle grinders are made by several exhibitors including Bendel Werkzeuge, BSK-Metallfinish, Einhell, Eisenblätter and Kress Elektrowerkzeuge.
The Berlin Technical Museum currently has a special exhibition on wind energy running until 28 February 2013. The exhibition occupies more than 1,000 m², describing the origins and importance of wind, and the long history of wind power.