It’s no secret that the area of offshore wind power has been developing at a frantic pace in recent years. Turbines have become more efficient, producing increased levels of Gigawatt power and in many cases larger structures.
There are bigger and bigger concentrations of wind farms being established at sea, and there are now even floating turbines remove the need for deep-sea foundations.
Windpower Engineering recently explored some of the innovations that have made wind energy more cost-effective, and more importantly have made the industry safer for all of those involved directly or via the supply chain.
Of course, technology can play a key part in operations, but it needs to be supported by framework competencies and correct accredited training to anyone who’s going to undertake maintenance and inspection work on offshore wind turbines, such as a GWO working at heights course.
But going back to the new technology, there have been some interesting breakthroughs in the field in recent years. Among them is the development of a Thermal Spray Aluminium (TSA) which prevents rust forming on a turbine’s foundations. This can reduce corrosion over the course of a turbine’s 25-year lifespan, as well as the level of metal deposits that end up in the sea.
Another innovation - and one that’s been vital for offshore wind safety - is the use of robots to undertake underwater inspections of turbines. The eventual aim is for this kind of robot to also be used for helping make repairs on foundations. It’s being developed by the Technical University of Denmark.
A motion and impact-monitoring system has been developed by the UK’s Electronic Solutions, which helps to protects the longevity of offshore assets by monitoring and reporting vessel impact on structures
It’s vital not to neglect staff development with all these new technological innovations on the horizons. Research published last month found that wind technicians need more frequent training updates, after they found many were struggling to recall basic emergency procedures just one month after completing their initial training.