Challenges of Wind Turbine Monitoring
Although wind energy is one of the fastest growing markets for world energy, turbine blades are susceptible to fatigue failure and environmental effects. Cracks in the blades, if left unattended, will grow and propagate under fatigue loading, which will eventually lead to blade failure and a costly replacement.
Condition monitoring is the most effective way to mitigate against this problem. By continuously monitoring the blades, defects such as blade imbalance, blade damage and ice accretion can be detected at an early stage and quickly fixed for a low cost.
BladeSave aims to increase the average annual availability of wind turbines from 95% to 98-99% by optimising maintenance to maximise component life spans and reduce unscheduled repair, replacement and breakdown.
A Fusion of State-of-the-Art Technologies
BladeSave is a fusion of structural health monitoring with a blade management software to link the data and provide a comprehensive solution for wind turbine management.
The structural health monitoring is carried out using fibre optic systems, namely ‘Smartscan’ and ‘Smartsonic’, which provides multi-sensing capabilities, including strain, vibration and acoustic emission. The data acquisition system has been developed to dynamically measure the root loading of rotor blades during their operating lifetime. The data from this system is pre-processed onsite to extract key parameters, which are then coupled with a cloud-based blade management software called ‘WindManager,’ to create a risk matrix to evaluate the blades on a 5-grade scale, hence providing a joined-up approach to monitoring, management and repair.