By the beginning of February 2020, UK wind power production consisted of 10,429 wind turbines with a total installed capacity of over 22 gigawatts: 13,575 megawatts of onshore capacity and 8,483 megawatts of offshore capacity. However, leading-edge erosion (LEE) of the turbine blade, particularly for offshore turbines, is a growing problem for the wind energy sector today, which incurs high costs for inspection, maintenance, repair, and loss of energy production due to downtime and reduced performance. Rain droplet, airborne particulate, UV radiation exposure are the major stressors for LEE, which increases the surface roughness of blades and deteriorates the aerodynamic performance resulting in lower annual energy production (AEP) during turbine operation.
Current standard practices of wind turbine inspection and monitoring are done periodically with human operators, which are costly, time-consuming and have a great risk factor for human operators. These operations also require an average downtime of 148 hours/turbine/ year.
EPConsult Energies, together with consortium partners - IIika Technologies Ltd., Precision Varionic International Ltd, Technovative Solutions Ltd, Xi Engineering Consultants, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and EDF Renewables has recently submitted a proposal to Innovate UK for a novel sensor grid to provide real-time continuous monitoring and reporting of blade LEE and blade structural health. This data for an individual turbine blade will be combined with data across the windfarm and combined with machine learning and data analytics to provide real-time condition monitoring and predictive analysis.
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