Offshore wind inspecting the future
The UK’s commitment to the European Union’s 2020 carbon reduction targets has led to a renaissance for green energy generation in the UK. In particular, in the short term, this has meant the increasing deployment of onshore and, more extensively, offshore wind turbines.
Already leading the world in offshore wind turbine deployment, with consents now granted by The Crown Estate in UK waters, developers and wind turbine operators are now planning a ten-fold increase in offshore capacity over the next ten years. The inspection of the wind turbine components, both during manufacture and especially in-service in remote offshore locations, has required the development of inspection techniques and programmes to reduce the risk of failure and meet the challenging demands of this new and growing industry.
TWI has in place an in-service inspection programme for wind turbine blade attachments using phased array ultrasonics on turbines both in the UK and overseas. TWI is planning to offer the industry a packaged collection of suitable inspection methods for complete wind turbine structures, including phased array for foundations, towers and blades, vibrational analysis for rotating machines together with shearography and thermography for turbine blades.
In addition to periodic on-site inspection techniques, TWI is also looking to develop further these techniques to offer remote online condition monitoring services for the growing number of difficult to access offshore wind turbines anticipated worldwide in the future.
As these inspection programmes develop, TWI will be offering compatible training courses.