A new solution to optimise wind turbine blade inspection is expected on the market as a result of a partnership between Sulzer Schmid and ENERTRAG.
Sulzer Schmid has provided its wind turbine blade inspection for integration with ENERTRAG’s lightning protection systems (LPS) testing platform.
The integration will enable LPS testing to be conducted at the same time as rotor blade inspections.
This will help reduce time and money for project operators, according to a statement.
Tom Sulzer, the CEO of Sulzer Schmid, said: “With this new solution, ENERTRAG Betrieb customers can combine LPS testing and rotor blade inspections in one go using our autonomous drones and our software. This enables more efficient test and route planning, leading to downtime reduction which results in higher revenue for the owner of a wind farm. In addition, the cost savings by ENERTRAG Betrieb due to less travel time will be forwarded to the customer.”
The development of the prototype and its test phase has been completed and the product feasibility has been proven in a recent study.
LPS testing is crucial for the safety of workers and operations of wind turbines due to the vulnerability of wind farms to being struck by lighting.
ENERTRAG uses an intermittent AC voltage of up to 6000V, which is much closer to the capacity carried by a lightning strike. Previous measurements were done at 24V.
ENERTRAG’s system feeds the absorbed voltage into the LPS located at the root of the wind turbine rotor blade, which then generates an intermittent electric field around the blade.
If the electric field is detected in the area of the blade tip, the lightning protection system is functional. If the electric field does not reach the blade tip, this indicates damage to the lightning protection system. The damage is located where the electric field stops in the direction of the blade tip.
Dr. Konrad Iffarth, the key driver of the LPS testing innovation at ENERTRAG Betrieb, added: “Non-contact lightning protection measurement by drone will become the new norm for equipment inspection.
“The new measuring method simulates a lightning strike much more accurately than current test methods could. Faulty results will be reduced, and the method will be universally applicable for all plant types.”