Wind turbines provide a clean, non-polluting way to generate electricity. However, a wind turbine is a sophisticated and expensive device, often costing millions. The owners of these devices need them to be running at maximum efficiency with minimal downtime.
Regular preventative maintenance can significantly extend the viable lifespan of turbines and ensure that they output maximum power in all conditions. Inspecting them presents a challenge, however, as they are tall structures and the internal structure of the blades can develop structural problems that may be invisible from the outside.
The consequences of inadequate inspection and maintenance of wind turbines can be catastrophic, not only in terms of financial loss, but also in respect to the safety of personnel and the public.
The traditional way to do a wind turbine inspection was to stop the turbine with a blade in the six o’clock position, then operatives were lowered down the blade from the top on ropes or cables and they would knock on the blade to estimate the soundness of the material. This has several disadvantages:
- It takes a long time to repeat this for all three blades
- The knocking system is very subjective and prone to error
- Often, wind noise makes it hard to estimate the condition of the blade
- The turbine is out of use for hours, and valuable income is lost
- Operatives are put at unnecessary risk by being forced to work at height
ABJ WindVue© uses a revolutionary, patent-protected technique for rapid wind turbine inspections with drones. The ABJ WindVue© method deploys a sophisticated, weatherproof Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS/drone) to inspect the wind turbine. The drone carries a complex package of instruments including an ultra-high resolution, 60MB camera and a bespoke, highly specialised infrared camera.
The ABJ WindVue© system utilises the fact that the internal structure of a wind turbine blade heats and cools at different rates. By measuring these small differences using a highly sophisticated, specially calibrated infrared camera on our special drones, we can gather this information rapidly, needing the turbine to be stopped for only minutes instead of hours. We then upload the gathered data to our central processing facilities where the information is monitored, manipulated and interpreted. The result is a detailed, easy to understand report that includes an x-ray like image of the blade.
Advantages of ABJ WindVue©
- Rapid wind turbine inspection; needing minimal downtime
- No need to send personnel to height, improving safety
- Detailed optical inspection of the whole wind turbine can be recorded with ultra-high resolution imaging
- Internal view of the wind turbine blade structure displaying any issues needing repair
- A record of the wind turbine’s condition at that point in time can be kept and its status monitored over time
- Cost of inspection is dramatically less than by traditional means, especially when loss of energy production time is factored in
- Insurance costs can often be reduced when a regular preventative inspection process can be proven
- Potential manufacturing defects can be detected while the turbine is still within the guarantee period