Despite delays related to COVID-19, renewables are on track to overtake coal and become the largest source of electricity generation worldwide by 2025. With wind power expected to contribute nearly 30% of all renewable capacity additions through 2025, it is imperative that wind farm owners properly maintain turbines and blades, operating at maximum capacity and extend the useful life of their three-bladed assets to maximize the return on investment to facility owners.
Technical inspection of wind turbines in wind power plants with drones is an essential practice due to the environmental challenges and potential damage that turbine components face on a daily basis. Adverse weather conditions, such as hail, snow, lightning, rain, salt and dust, subject turbines, blades and other components to constant stress. In addition, various factors, such as extreme load instabilities or manufacturing defects, can cause the disassembly of some of its parts, which can damage the turbine blades.
During wind turbine inspections, defects are commonly identified in several key parts that can affect turbine performance and safety. Some of these defects include cracks, damage, peeling paint, corrosion, deformation, lightning damage, water ingress, oil cracks, among others, which can occur in the tower, blades, carriage and turbine hub.
The importance of inspections lies in preventive maintenance to avoid costly failures and repairs. Studies have shown that each turbine failure can cost wind plant owners as much as €27,000 ($30,000) annually in repairs and spare parts. In addition, lost production days due to extended component delivery times or planned shutdown events, such as manual onshore inspections, can also erode wind plant revenues.
The use of drones in these inspections represents an efficient and effective solution, as they allow more frequent and detailed monitoring of turbine components, which facilitates early detection of potential problems and proper planning of corrective actions. In summary, the technical inspection of wind turbines with drones is essential to ensure the optimal operation, safety and extended lifetime of turbines in wind power plants.
In the context of technical inspections in wind power plants, traditional inspection methods, such as rope or platform access and ground inspection with zoom or telephoto lenses, face challenges in terms of efficiency and reach. These methods can be expensive and limited in their ability to detect defects and damage to turbine components. However, the incorporation of drones in these inspections has proven to be an efficient and effective solution.
Drones allow safe and quick access to hard-to-reach areas, speeding up inspections and reducing turbine downtime. Equipped with advanced cameras and sensors, the drones capture high-quality images and data that provide a detailed view of the status of the turbines. This facilitates early detection of anomalies and damage, which in turn enables informed and proactive decisions to be made for maintenance and optimization of the assets in the wind farm.
The use of drones for technical inspections maximizes operational efficiency, reduces costs and ensures higher turbine availability. The accuracy and quality of data collected through drone technology significantly improves the reliability and safety of wind farm operations. Thus, the adoption of drones in these inspections represents an important advance for the industry, allowing to maintain efficiency and reliability in the growing landscape of wind energy.
The adoption of drones to inspect wind turbines has been a significant advance in the field of technical inspections in wind power plants. Faced with the challenges presented by traditional methods, many wind farm operators around the world have opted to use drones to perform these inspections.
The use of drones has proven its efficiency by overcoming limitations related to low efficiency, high costs and insufficient quality of inspection data. Compared to traditional methods, which can take hours to inspect a single turbine, drones equipped with DJI’s wind-resistant and RTK technology can perform a complete inspection in approximately 45 minutes. This has allowed for a faster inspection process and a significant reduction in associated costs.
In addition, the use of drones in these inspections has improved the safety and accuracy of the data collected. By preventing inspectors from working at dangerous heights, the risk to personnel is minimized and images are obtained. This data is critical for early detection of any defects or damage to the aerogenerator and making informed decisions on maintenance and asset optimization. In general, the adoption of drones to inspect wind turbines has revolutionized the way in which technical inspections are carried out in wind power plants, improving the efficiency, safety and reliability of the operation of these key infrastructures in renewable energy generation.
The use of drones for the inspection of wind turbine towers has revolutionized technical inspections in wind power plants. These drones fly around the tower and capture data from all four sides, allowing a complete assessment of its condition. During inspections, common problems such as corrosion, fungus and oil leaks, as well as surface cracks near the foundation are identified. This technology provides accurate, real-time data, facilitating informed maintenance decisions and extending the life of structures, while ensuring their performance and safety in the field of renewable energy.
The use of drones to inspect the nacelle and hub of wind turbines has proven to be a valuable tool in the field of technical inspections in wind power plants. These unmanned aircraft fly thoroughly around the nacelle and hub, allowing a thorough evaluation of all areas of the nacelle. Inspectors can look for bolt damage, surface cracks, oil leaks, shaft damage, equipment damage and check for missing or worn parts or covers. The cabin, which is a critical part, is thoroughly inspected from all sides, providing detailed and accurate data for maintenance planning, informed decision making, performance optimization and safety of operating wind turbines. This technology has revolutionized technical inspections by providing unprecedented efficiency and accuracy in the wind industry.
The use of drones to inspect wind turbine blades is an innovative technique in the field of technical inspections in wind power plants. This methodology offers three different approaches for conducting inspections:
– Position of the paddles at 12 o’clock: In this technique, each paddle is manually placed facing upwards. The drone performs manual or automatic flights along all four sides of the shovel, thoroughly covering its entire surface. The drone’s camera maintains a pitch angle of 0 degrees, pointing vertically towards the surface.
– Position of the paddles at 6 o’clock: In this variant, each paddle is manually positioned facing downwards. The drone performs manual or automatic flights along the three sides of the blade, keeping the camera at a 0-degree angle to observe the surface vertically.
– Fixed position: In this mode, the wind turbine is manually stopped at a specific or random position. The drone uses an automatic mission flight mode to fly over all four sides of the blade, capturing accurate data along its entire surface.
These inspection strategies provide detailed and accurate data on blade condition, enabling wind farm operators to make informed decisions for maintenance, planning and performance optimization of their turbines. With drones as allies, blade inspections are performed more efficiently and safely, contributing significantly to the improvement of the overall reliability and performance of wind power plants.