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Risk Based Technology for Blade Structural Assessment

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - BladeSave (Risk Based Technology for Blade Structural Assessment)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2020-08-31

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world's energy markets. According to the EWEA, the European wind market it is expected to grow consistently at a compound annual growth rate of 9.8%. As annual blade failures are estimated at around 3,800 with poor maintenance the most common cause of accidents, ensuring the integrity of blades is a key issue with respect to the business, safety and the environment. The overall problem envisaged is the lack of effective condition monitoring systems for the blades, representing a business opportunity for the project’s partners Hence, the Project aims to commercialize a novel solution, BladeSave, marketed as a fusion between a Fibre Optic Structural Health Monitoring System providing multi-sensing capability and a management software incorporating risk based inspection data analysis and offering a comprehensive solution for blade monitoring, repair and management. Based on existing technologies developed by the partners at TRL6, BladeSave will assist WFOs in satisfying newly imposed regulations by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (amendments to EN 50308) and benefit European ISPs in the CM services market, giving them a competitive edge over global rivals. Our product market target consists predominantly of the WTFs installed before 2011(currently around 71,620 in Europe) as old wind turbines have an average annual maintenance cost larger than newer models, are not covered by warranties and offer a bigger risk of catastrophic failures. The project brings together five experienced companies with a unique set of skills and expertise in the wind industry. BladeSave will have an impact on both European and foreign markets, and over the five year sales projection, we forecast a total cumulative gross profits of at least €48 million, a return of EU investment of 23:1 and the creation of about 380 jobs within consortium and associated companies which are part of the supply chain.

Our objective is to reduce the risks related to blade failures and contribute to the growth and competitiveness of wind energy in the world’s energy markets by commercializing an innovative solution that will offer a comprehensive solution for wind turbine blade monitoring, repair and management.
Period covered by the report: 01/06/2017 - 31/05/2018
Technical work package covered:
WP1 - System trials and enhancement

The initial development of the BladeSave system focussed on what the system had to achieve, especially in relation to end user requirements. Significant work was undertaken to understand the requirements of the system. This included review and analysis of structural blade failures and the creation of a damage matrix. A blade defect catalogue was created by based upon historical blade defects. The details pertaining to each defect mode were then reviewed in terms of risk of the defect in relation to the blade’s structural integrity as well as the likelihood of the defect occurring. The results of this analysis were validated by EWT, a wind turbine OEM (original equipment manufacturer). The probability and severity criteria were then used to determine the highest risk defects. All the defects were sorted from the highest to the lowest risk. The most important blade defects identified in the review.
SmartFibres and TWI worked in collaboration to determine that in order to detect and predict failures related to the wind turbine blades, the BladeSave system needs to allow detection of temperature, strain, vibration and acoustic emission (AE). The detection system is based on fibre Bragg grating (FBG) sensors and instrumentation developed by Smart Fibres. The BladeSave system needs to communicate with the outside world. The structural health of the blades has to be regularly uploaded into Windmanager which provides real-time information to the wind farm owners. SmartFibres, Assist and Renewable Advice are working on the communication and software integration from the hardware in the turbine to the Graphical User Interface of Renewable Advice’s Windmanager software.

Provide real-time remote status of the health of the blades via Windmanager (on-line application that enables real-time monitoring of the wind turbine status) Acoustic Emission testing was required because in such a complex structure like a wind turbine blade, there is a need for improvements of AE technique.. Therefore, a series of experiments were carefully designed to validate the functionality of the fibre optic AE measurement technique. Based on the outcome of these experiments, the design of the system will be optimised to be suited to turbine installation. Glass Fibre Reinforced Plastic (GFRP) test panels were manufactured by Renewable Advice for the static and dynamic tests undertaken by TWI and SmartFibres. Depending on the design of the FBG AE sensors (point sensor or in-line sensor), BladeSave’s standard configuration will include either linear localization or 2D plane localization. Linear localization can be used to evaluate the AE source location between two sensors. The BladeSave system will offer real-time simultaneous AE signal processing, flexible waveform parameter displays and parameter storage capabilities. Based on the information contained in these waveform parameters. The system will suggest the damage mechanisms, which will allow the end user to assess what kind of repairs the wind turbine blade requires.

WP2 - System Finalization and Validation

The BladeSave system will be validated in a laboratory environment in WP2. The mechanical tests on a wind turbine blade section in a fatigue environment will be carried out after the tests on the GFRP samples. This is also to validate the localization algorithm employed in the BladeSave system, as well as to investigate the AE wave propagation in wind turbine blade. All system components including signal processing and data communication functions will be validated.
Through WP1 - system trails and enhancement, the BladeSave system has been successfully advanced to meet the end-user requirements. the key factor, AE functionality has been successfully validated through a series of tests, the data processing software has also been developed, the data communication route has been built. The results are great helpful for the next stage testing, which is to test the system performance in a real operating environment.

The reliability and specificity of BladeSave towards the wind condition monitoring sector will facilitate the emendation of current ISO standards for the diagnosis of wind turbines. Through the implementation of BladeSave, we anticipate the optimisation of maintenance routines, leading to an increase in the yearly operating time for large turbines from 95% to 98-99%, and the reduction of blades failures and consequent accidents thus meeting the requirements for safety in the wind energy sector.

At the same time, the BladeSave helped developed the commercial prospects for the three SMEs (Smart Fibres, Renewable Advice and ASSIST) in the consortium. It will also bring direct engagement with major industry players.

BladeSave system is expected to have an impact on both European and foreign markets. It will lead to an improvement in current operation and maintenance procedures and provides independent service providers with a number of advantages, all-in-all allowing them to stand out against competitors on the global scene.
software integration and data collection diagram