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Innovative Inspection of Offshore Foundations

Uniper Figure 1Using Interfering Sound Waves for Monopile Investigation

Offshore wind farm operators face a challenge when trying to establish the integrity of the monopile-transition piece interface which has been used in 80% of turbines constructed before 2012. A key focus is the layer of grout which bonds the two steel sections of the structure, the integrity of which could affect the turbine’s long-term stability. Uniper Technologies, working with a team from the British Geological Survey, has developed a system, the first of its kind, which uses interfering sound waves to investigate the monopile-transition piece underwater and highlight any areas of defective or missing grout. The system, which has been successfully trialled at sea, was a winner of the recent Subsea Inspection competition organised by the Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator. Importantly the technique can inspect the structure from a single surface and within the tight timescales required for offshore procedures. Inspection data is interpreted and shared in a transparent format.

By Dr Colin Brett, Head of Inspection, Uniper Technologies, UK

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Modular Blades Market

Nabrawind 1aBreaking the Logistic Barriers in XXL Blades Industry

The growth of the wind market, together with the low availability of sites with optimal wind conditions, is creating a rapid increase in the size of turbines and therefore the diameter of some rotors that work at specific low power levels. This leads to the need for longer blades whose transport is, more and more frequently, a major logistical challenge that manufacturers must face. The modularisation of these blades is presented as a solution to reduce the costs of, or even make feasible, wind farms with more complicated logistics. The main OEMs are all working on modularisation developments that aim to lead to a reliable solution with an acceptable impact on the rest of the machine.

By Javier Iriarte, Senior Engineer at Nabrawind Technologies, Spain

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Improving Safety With Satellites

Globalstar Figure 1Technology to Enhance Remote Wind Energy Staff Welfare

Wind energy providers know that retaining their most knowledgeable staff is critical to ensuring maximised operational efficiency. It’s also good business. Experienced team members perform duties more rapidly, and have more know-how to draw upon in challenging situations. But working conditions in the field can be harsh. Installations are typically remote and subject to sudden and dramatic weather changes. This article looks at what can be done to enhance the welfare of staff working in such conditions and to make sure they can be rescued when necessary.

By Gavan Murphy, Director of Marketing EMEA, Globalstar, Ireland

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A Flexible, Craneless System for Wind Turbine Installation and Maintenance

Koalalifter 1Overcoming the Problems of Size and High Wind Speeds

Wind farm sites have the annoying habit of being located in places with frequent high-speed winds! Also, the trend in the wind industry is to create bigger and taller wind turbine generators in order to produce more megawatt-hours. Unfortunately, construction and maintenance activities with the need for ever larger cranes to lift bigger loads to higher heights are not particularly compatible with high-speed winds.

By Emmanuel Garcia de la Pena, Managing Director, KoalaLifter, Spain

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Sound-Based Condition Monitoring

Figure1 InescoCondition Monitoring of Wind Turbines Using Non-Contact Acoustic Sensors

The reliability of drive-train components in wind turbines is still a problem. The failure of a wind turbine’s main components (i.e. gearbox, generator, etc.) usually lead to extended downtime that reduces the power generation capacity and increases the levelised cost of energy (LCOE). Vibration-based condition monitoring (CM) strategies have been widely used to reduce the downtime and schedule the maintenance programmes efficiently. However, there remain some drawbacks such as the excessive costs and intrusiveness due to contact of the accelerometers with the machinery. To solve these issues the CMDRIVE project seeks to develop a novel low cost CM solution for the drive-train based on non-contact acoustic sensors. This article describes the features of this new system including its advantages and the results of field trials in a real wind turbine.

By Juan Luis Ferrando, Senior Project Manager, Inesco Ingenieros, Spain

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Reducing Fire Risks in Wind Power Plants

rupi figure 2Cable Stocking with Self-Extinguishing Plastic Coating

According to power reports, with its 50,018MW of generated wind energy Germany is Europe’s leader of installed wind power plants. By the end of 2016, a total of 28,217 wind power plants supplied 12.3% of the power produced in Germany. However, although there is an increasing number of new installations, the applied technology still has its weak points. For example, recurrent fires cause significant damage and even personal injury. Fires may arise as a result of short circuits and flying sparks caused by worn-out cable insulations inside the narrow generator houses.

By Hans Benkert, CEO, rupi-Cologne, Germany

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Hammering Down the LCOE with BLUE Piling Technology

Fistuca figure 1newThe BLUE 25M Hammer

In recent years the offshore wind industry has gained an increased awareness of the detrimental effects of underwater noise caused by pile driving. This has resulted in the need for noise mitigation measures and legislation to reduce the negative effects of foundation installation. All across Europe this legislation is getting stricter. In Germany, where the legislation is strictest, up to 40 million euros are spent per wind farm to reduce the effects of underwater noise. Fistuca BV is currently building a hammer, the BLUE 25M, that can compete with the largest hydraulic hammers in the industry, which tackles the noise issue at the source.

By Jasper Winkes, Fistuca BV, The Netherlands

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