Instrumentation for the Investigation of Pitch Bearing Design and Reliability

Jon Keller, Jesse Graeter, Jason Roadman, Miles Skinner

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Recently, there has been an increasing level of industry interest in pitch system and pitch bearing reliability. Pitch bearings are used in wind turbines to connect the blade root to the hub. Some populations of pitch bearings have demonstrated a 12% failure rate in 20 years. As rotor diameters continue to increase for tall land-based and offshore wind turbines, pitch bearings are becoming even larger in diameter, which can make them vulnerable to deflections and consequent stress concentrations. There is an increased need to more accurately study pitch bearing deformations, misalignment, load distributions, and contact stresses. A significant body of work has investigated fatigue lives and wear characteristics of pitch bearings on ground-based test rigs. NREL has also recently begun a research program related to pitch bearing reliability, recognizing its growing importance for wind turbines. The purpose of this paper is to describe a set of instrumentation that was recently installed on a 1.5 MW wind turbine at the NREL Flatirons Campus and provide an example data set. To the authors' knowledge, this will be the first publicly available pitch bearing data collection campaign on an operational wind turbine.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages29
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-87719


  • pitch bearing
  • reliability


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