Timken Power Systems: The End-to-End Service Provider Powering Hydro
While solar and wind are growing, hydro — the original renewable energy source—still accounts for 60 percent of renewable power generated globally. In the U.S. alone, $8 billion has been invested in the last decade to refurbish and upgrade hydro facilities reaching the end of their initial lifespans.
Reliability at these facilities is critical to keeping communities running. After all, hydro is responsible for 40% of all black starts in the U.S. A hydro station requires minimal initial power for starting purposes, making it the ideal source for kickstarting electric power stations and grids back into operation after an outage.
Technology that maximizes communities’ long-term hydro investments
“When you say hydro, people envision massive operations like Niagara Falls or the Hoover Dam,” says Richard Pelczar, manager of commercial services at Timken Power Systems (TPS) and 30-year veteran of the hydro industry. “Most hydro stations are near smaller rivers where the drop of water from intake to outtake is low, and there is little to no water storage available. Many of these low-head hydro stations are dependent upon water releases at dams located upstream. They have seasonal water flows and less available funds for ongoing maintenance. Those communities are where we have the greatest impact.”
Many U.S. communities operate hydro stations initially built in the 1980s, when infrastructure incentives created a hydroelectricity boom. At the time, Philadelphia Gear, now part of Timken Power Systems, provided high reliability, state-of- the-art drives as original equipment or an aftermarket upgrade.
Pelczar recalls many influential projects on the Arkansas and Allegheny Rivers. The most notable, he believes, is supplying the massive planetary speed increasers for the Murray Hydro Station on the Arkansas River.
“Each of the station’s two speed increasers weigh 275,000 lbs. and are as a big as locomotives,” he says. “They are among the largest epicyclic hydro speed increasers in North America and they were conservatively designed to transmit high torque loads with high efficiency and long life. It’s a credit to our design engineering and manufacturing teams that these gearboxes still operate flawlessly after 30 years.”
Despite the long-lasting technology, Pelczar notes that it’s important to refurbish equipment for uninterrupted service, and many hydro customers are doing that now. “Customers are turning to us for collective expertise in electromechanical systems so they can get everything they need from a single source,” he says.
Creating a new category of end-to-end drivetrain service
The complete electromechanical knowledge and capabilities of TPS transcends any single industrial service category. Instead, it is creating a completely new service category that addresses the entire drivetrain, end-to-end.
“We provide a unique service,” says Pelczar. “When a customer can work with a single point of contact and have access to everything we have to offer, it makes complex drivetrain repair projects easier to achieve on time and in budget. That’s true across industries – from renewable energy to water treatment, food processing and all other essential industries.”
Promoting a constant state of readiness for families and businesses
On Pennsylvania’s Allegheny River, TPS currently is working with Eagle Creek Renewable Energy on a long-range project to upgrade 26 hydro turbines for greater reliability. Several customized gearbox units have already been replaced and upgrades will continue until all turbines are refurbished.
Through recent acquisitions, Pelczar notes that TPS has new electric motor capabilities that add value for customers like Eagle Creek. “The electrical experts on our team can upgrade electrical controls to keep motors, generators and gearboxes operating smoothly,” he says.
In one case, TPS has used its collective capabilities to help Imperial Irrigation District, a California-based renewable energy provider, achieve its mission of providing customers a “constant state of readiness and predictability.”
“This is right in our wheelhouse,” says Richard Brossia, territory account specialist. “The more critical the application, the more value we add. Our combined capabilities in gearbox overhaul, electric motor repair, and bearing expertise enables Imperial to deliver uninterrupted energy for 150,000 customers in rural California.”
Territory Account Specialist
“This is right in our wheelhouse,” says Richard Brossia, territory account specialist. “The more critical the application, the more value we add. Our combined capabilities in gearbox overhaul, electric motor repair and bearing expertise enables Imperial to deliver uninterrupted energy for 150,000 customers in rural California.”
Beyond hydro, Timken and its family of brands use product development and service engineering expertise to advance renewables in wind and solar, too. Learn more about how Timken bearings make wind energy more viable, and how Cone Drive worm drives help solar wind farms track the sun more efficiently.
Last Updated: 2021/08/13