Wind turbines are an effective and sustainable way to generate energy, but the industry is handicapped by a lack of on-site monitoring and repair. Removing a turbine and transporting it for repair is a time-consuming activity that results in a productivity loss of thousands of Euros. With this in mind, the EU-funded CORETO (Adapted composite repair tooling for in-situ wind turbine blades structural rehabilitation) sought to provide a unified, on-site repair system that will drastically reduce repair time and costs associated with wind turbine damage. Work was broken down into two major activities: defect detection and repair. Project partners developed an ultrasonic scanning system to detect internal damage in wind turbine blades without the need to transport them off-site. They then optimised the system for in-situ wind turbine blade inspection. The lightweight system consists of software to control automated scanning and indicate the damage areas on a 2D/3D map with different colours. This enables inspectors to easily identify the sections where surface damage has occurred, thus cutting down on maintenance time and costs for the wind energy sector. Experiments carried out by the CORETO team on glass fibre reinforced plastics and wind turbine blades reveal that internal defects can also be detected. It took commercially available equipment commonly used in the aerospace industry and adapted it for in-situ wind turbine blade surface preparation. For the final repair, team members used a newly developed combined heating-vacuum bagging system with heating blankets designed for small and large defect areas and novel conductive heating. CORETO should deliver real productivity savings. The technology is set to contribute to the reliability, efficiency and competitiveness of the wind energy industry.
Wind turbines, CORETO, wind turbine damage, in-situ wind turbine blade inspection