Revolutionizing wind turbine inspections

EasyInspect leads new project, DARWIN, aiming to develop a disruptive new inspection system in which detection of blade damage, classification and reporting in geometric high precision and 3D is done with full automation. Innovation Fund Denmark has invested 14,2 mill. DKK in the project.

Annual costs for worldwide NDT inspections of wind turbine blades are estimated at DKK 7,5 billion. Till now traditional inspections are done manually by rope access or by telephoto lens and manual reporting. These methods are challenged by many factors such as time consumption, high cost rates, inaccessibility, hazardous work environment, and uncertainties regarding both classification, sizing and positioning of damages and manual delayed annotations on observations. A drone based intelligent inspection system visualized in the DARWIN project, will enable a reduction of these costs by estimated 70%.

Especially offshore wind is challenged by high operation and maintenance costs which are crucial in determining the price of wind energy. Hence it is vital to bring down these costs. The new system will be commercialized by EasyInspect and will offer offshore wind a tool to dramatically increase their competitiveness.

Lower inspection costs and the precision of the system enables faster, cheaper and more precise inspections allowing for more frequent inspections. This leads to early warnings, timely maintenance and reduction in repair costs and down time. In the long run this results in fewer critical damages, longer lifespan of wind turbine blades and finally cheaper wind energy.

The focus is on surface damages but the project also investigates drone mounted advanced sensors ability to detect internal structural damages with no or sparse visual footprint on the blades.

Also, the system will include a probabilistic tool to predict the likelihood and type of imminent damages. Modules of the system will be tailor made to other types of inspections, for instance inspection of bridges, cranes, towers, buildings and structures, high tension power lines and pylons, weld inspections etc.

For Denmark, being amongst the major and world leading players in offshore WECS, the DARWIN system is of specific relevance, and it is thus to be expected that a disruptive new NDT inspections system would be developed and funded in Denmark in a synergetic collaboration between the DARWIN team of partners, which comprises leading Danish Research Institutions with highest expertise in wind energy and blade damage, computer vision, deep learning, and commercial companies with the highest expertise in drone technology and development of drone software.

– “We have huge expectations to this new intelligent inspection tool, able to revolutionize WECS inspections and reporting through full automation and geometric documentation in 3-D. Cost reduction, growth and commercial potential will be huge and will dramatically increase the competiveness of offshore wind” says Lars J. Frost, Project Manager for the project from EasyInspect.

Project partners are: 

  • EasyInspect
  • DanDrone Business
  • DTU Wind Energy
  • DTU Compute
  • AAU – Aalborg University
  • FairWind A/S
  • Teracom A/S
  • Recover Nordic ApS
  • Biegga A/S
  • Power Curve ApS

The press release can be found in english at Innovation Fund Denmarks website:
http://innovationsfonden.dk/da/presse/intelligent-vindmoelleinspektion-kan-give-billigere-el

Contact person: Andreas Krickhahn Larsen, +45 69151071