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New technology solution to extend life of wind turbine towers and reduce failures

Aquaterra Energy and Proeon Systems have developed a cost-saving, integrated structural monitoring system to improve the integrity of offshore wind structures.

With global offshore wind expenditure forecast to reach £210 billion over the next ten years, the offshore wind energy monitoring system will improve inspection and repair planning, and lower the frequency of offshore failures. It will also greatly reduce the need, risk and cost associated with inspection crews travelling to wind farm sites offshore.

The collaboration is an amalgamation of Proeon’s sensor technology and Aquaterra’s capability in structural mechanics and analysis that will provide operators with accurate, informed, and real-time condition analysis data to enhance maintenance, commissioning and decommissioning programmes.

A variety of sensors can be deployed and placed on all aspects of the installed turbine support structure, including the nacelle and foundation pile, to monitor strain, movement, temperature, scour and meteorological data. The results can then be compared against initial data collected in normal conditions and show the potential of degradation occurring.

Dr Andrew Lennon, senior riser analyst with Aquaterra Energy, said: “Current monitoring solutions produce data but don’t provide meaningful analysis. This can lead to a lack of understanding in the industry about why failures and structural problems are occurring.

“The monitoring system mitigates the need for costly offshore inspections while providing knowledge and reassurance about the integrity of the asset. For example, where there is cracking or other problems in the structure, the data can be used to identify events which may be the cause. Trends in the data could be used in the future to identify problems before they occur and to determine life expectancy more accurately.

Dr Dorian Hindmarsh, business development manager with Proeon Systems, added: “This is the first time that these systems have been integrated and their combined capabilities add real economic value to structural monitoring and analysis. The UK is a market leader in offshore wind energy and using collaborative, home grown technology to implement monitoring solutions from the outset will enable wind farm operators to safely and cost-effectively improve the integrity and operational efficiency of their assets.”

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