The yaw bearing is a key support structure of wind turbines and is often exposed to substantial complex loads that cause damage and fatigue failure. Raceway surfaces accommodate high contact stress and require a hardening treatment. The hardened depth has a great influence on both the carrying capacity and fatigue life. We establish a whole finite element model of a yaw bearing and use non-linear springs instead of a ball to obtain the maximum contact load. The results of a strain gauge experiment and an empirical formula are compared to verify the spring model results. A local finite element model of a ball and raceway with different hardened depths is established to analyse the stress distribution and fatigue life. The raceway is divided into a hardened layer, transition layer, and core layer. An indentation experiment verifies the raceway model with different layers. The stress results are compared with Hertz contact theory, and the fatigue life results are compared with yaw bearing fatigue life theory. The influence of different hardened depths on the stress and lifetime of yaw bearings is analysed.
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