Operation and maintenance costs represent 25% of total levelised cost per kWh produced over the lifetime of a wind turbine. Half of this cost concerns the blades. The inspection process for wind turbine blades generally still relies on qualified inspectors rappelling down each blade. This process is time consuming, at 5 hours, and has an average cost of €1500 per turbine. Workers carrying out maintenance face not only the challenges of the inspection procedure itself, but also environmental and weather conditions, which can be extremely hazardous, especially regarding off-shore turbines.
Due to the challenges and risks involved, the standard maintenance strategy used by most asset owners – annual inspections – has negative consequences on wind farm performance and reliability: in most cases, inspections are too far apart to detect a problem at an early stage.
ProDrone’s integrated solution is a fully-equipped Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)-based platform for capturing, processing and analysing inspection data. Image processing algorithms, together with flight data, enables the customer to identify and locate irregularities on the blade.
Pro-Drone is targeted at wind park operators who seek a reduction in the cost of blade inspection and additional revenues from decreased downtime. It allows operators to assess and monitor blade condition remotely, reducing inspection costs by over 50%. And at around 40 minutes, Pro-Drone is 6 times faster than traditional inspections.
This approach fits with the wind energy industry’s ambition to move towards a more preventive maintenance philosophy while minimizing human hazard.