Installed under harsh conditions and several kilometers away from shore, offshore wind turbines require yearly visual inspections in order to identify potential damages and to develop early stage solutions. In 2014, a Visual Working team of drone pilots and aerial imaging experts have achieved a result, that will revolutionalize the way we look at offshore wind turbine inspection.
The Visual Working team has inspected the entire Belwind farm by the exclusive use of aerial imaging. This wind farm is located 36 kilometers away from the coast and is made up of a total of 165 blades. With the use of UAVs, Visual Working team proved to be capable of delivering images of superior quality with inspection time cut by 70% when compared to the standard approach of using rope technicians. An aerial imaging drone can inspect a blade from all of its profiles in less than 10 minutes. Inspections with the help of aerial imaging systems are performed remotely under complete safety. Waves up to 5 meters, winds up to 12 meters per second and gusts up to 20 meters per second had no effects on the activity and caused no hurdles in the inspection (Visual Working, 2014).
The Visual Working team’s inspection activity at Belwind farm in 2014, turned out to be a major success in the industry of wind turbine inspection. The visual working team has developed the fastest and most reliable way to spot any surface damage, as small as a coin on a 45 meters long blade. With the help of advanced and miniaturized technology, customized solutions for many similar applications can be achieved with ease and efficiency. Use of drones in wind turbine inspection will bring about a dramatic change in the industry by significantly reducing inspection time, down time, health and safety risks and costs, while increasing accuracy, ease and efficiency of the activity (Navigant, 2015).
Visual Working (2014). UAV Drone Wind Turbine Inspection. Visual Working. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8yWygGUAx0&t=73s [Accessed On: 14 October 2017]
Navigant (2015). Drones for Wind Turbine Inspection. Navigant. Available from: https://www.navigantresearch.com/research/drones-for-wind-turbine-inspection [Accessed On: 14 October 2017]