With ever rising concerns over the environment and the need for more renewable energy resources; there has been a significant increase in the use of wind turbine farms, spurring on the need for safe and cost-effective methods of inspection.
Wind turbines are enormous structures of great height, and are usually located in secluded areas, making them difficult to access.
Traditionally before UAVS, a wind turbine inspection would be a long and laborious process and often extremely time consuming. With a manual inspection the physical constraints and safety risks are highly prominent. Now there is a much easier process to consider when inspecting your wind farm.
By using drones employees don’t have to risk the safety of their staff – and the wind farm can still function as normal.
Drone wind turbine inspections mean that each individual blade on a wind farm can be inspected without human access. Traditionally before UAV’S the inspection would be carried out by a human, who would use ropes/ladders to climb up to the turbine platform, which is both dangerous and costly. Both these factors are considerably lower when a drone is used.A drone wind turbine inspection abolishes the need for workers to physically access hostile environments, where factors such as height, wind, adverse weather, can lead to accidents or health issues.
As well as less risks to the employee, there is less risk of damage to the turbine itself.
UAVs also provide high resolution images of all areas of the wind turbine meaning any defects or faults can be detected quicker. Intricate cracks and small defects will be found much easier and the use of video will mean that all angles can be covered. This can cut time and means the engineer only needs to repair the problem rather than go up to inspect the whole turbine.
The ability to replay and slow down footage provides engineers with more in-depth information concerning any potential defects.The more quickly detail can be attained regarding a fault, the more quickly a turbine can get back to doing what it does best – producing power.
Additionally the ability to share images/videos/other information collected from the inspection instantly means faster results; whereas information from a manual inspection could take days.
Drones can also be used to minimise unnecessary inspections as they can be used to investigate alarms, thus another saving in the long run.
Multiple turbines can be covered in a day as it typically takes less than 30 minutes to complete an inspection using an UAV. With their quick launch time the use of drones is appropriate for both regular and emergency situations.
Furthermore, an inspection can be carried out in most weather conditions, whereas a manual inspection could pose dangerous if the weather was windy/rainy. Working at a height means operatives are more prone to injury. Moreover, drone inspections can be carried more regularly, allowing operators to detect damage earlier and potentially lower repair costs in the long run.
Finally the financial benefits outweigh those of a manual inspection, drones diminish the high cost of safety equipment such as ladders/access towers/and other apparatus, it just takes one person to operate the drone and multiple turbines can be inspected in the day. It’s a win-win situation for the renewable energy sector!!!