A new Danish research project will make it possible to inspect wind turbine blades without having to remove them. The aim is to develop an automated solution to identify damages at an early stage and thereby save the wind farms from costly production breaks due to close downs. The innovation Fond Denmark invests 16.9 million DKK in the project.
If a wind turbine blade fails, the entire wind farm closes down for weeks at very high costs (lost production).
Rope Robotics, FORCE Technology and DTU Wind Energy (DTU) will, in close cooperation, aim to conduct contact Non Destructive Testing (NDT) inspections and analysis of wind turbine blades on operational wind turbines - hence automated inspections in the heights.
NDT is used on wind turbine blades to detect abnormalities in the blade and thereby allow for repairs in due time before they become critical thus increasing the price of repair and downtime of the wind turbine.
The reduced expenses can help to decrease the cost of wind energy, making wind an even more attractive choice in the competitive energy market.
The aim of the project is to combine Rope Robotics’ automated, remote-controlled wind turbine blade repair robot with on-site blade inspection based on automated ultrasonics currently deployed by FORCE Technology under factory conditions, and to use DTUs knowledge of blade failures in composite materials to predict damage growth using fracture mechanics models.
The aim is also to benefit from Force Technology’s expertise to use advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to help distinguish between selected damages that will be in need of repair to expand the lifetime operation of the blade, and those which are of minor importance.
- This potential combination of existing knowledge in NDT, AI, ML and robotic technology is huge. To be able to conduct NDT inspections in the field and to meaningfully interpret the data with help from AI is going to be a game changer, says Martin Huus Bjerge, CEO Rope Robotics with great enthusiasm.
The solution will allow for reduced cost of maintenance as only critical damages will be repaired, again reducing downtime of the wind turbines, and it will make It possible to extend lifetime of wind turbines based on well documented inspections. Further, when wind farms are traded, the parties want to know the state and value of the assets (including blades).
Thus, the knowledge and solutions generated in the project will spill out into the entire Danish wind industry supply chain.
Steen Arnfred Nielsen, FORCE Technology, E-mail: email@example.com
Malcolm McGugan, DTU, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Martin Huus Bjerge, CEO Rope Robotics
Phone: +45 61 77 26 41, E-mail: email@example.com