British energy company TRAC International Group has introduced its TRAC advantEDGE solution to help prevent turbine blade leading edge erosion thereby reducing maintenance costs.
Currently, the material covering the leading edges of wind turbine blades fails to deliver adequate protection against erosion, thereby disrupting the aerodynamic performance of the turbine and reducing yield. Repairing damage caused by leading edge erosion (LEE) are typically carried out manually and are therefore time consuming, labour intensive and expensive with work being carried out at height and subject to variable environmental conditions. This in turn can affect the integrity of the repairs. Once this is completed, leading edge protection (LEP) coatings are applied on-site, but this process is also subject to the same variable environmental conditions.
Consequently, some of these repairs fail within 6-12 months, with reports suggesting that the majority of repairs seldom last longer than 1-2 years. Many wind farm owner/operators can only justify the cost of repairs every 2-3 years, so the majority of repair failures often go unnoticed until the next scheduled inspection. This intervening period typically results in additional damage and increased costs.
TRAC International’s advantEDGE system has been designed specifically to address this problem, thereby minimising turbine downtime. The system employs high tech, lightweight automated robotics, in conjunction with prefabricated modular erosion shields, combining the two approaches into a single ‘repair and protection’ process. The company claims that the system is suitable for both onshore and offshore wind turbine blades and can provide protection for in excess of 20 years in the case of offshore turbines.
TRAC advantEDGE will be available globally to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), Utilities and other wind farm owners and operators, and independent specialist blade repair service providers (ISPs), under licence from Spring 2016. Annual licences will be available for each of three global regions – Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Asia Pacific (APAC) and Americas (North, South and Latin America). The TRAC International team is also seeking discussions with OEMs and blade manufactuerers to discuss installation of the erosion shields on newly manufactured blades, thereby eliminating LE maintenance and repair over the full design life of the turbine blade.
“We’ve developed a unique 21st century solution to Leading Edge Erosion, which will eradicate the need for unnecessarily costly LE repairs and greatly reduce the need for LEPs” said Brian Forbes, General Manager, TRAC advantEDGE. “The materials used to manufacture blades don’t provide the necessary erosion resistance so our one-step solution rejuvenates the blade with a much more durable material to prevent further damage long into the future. The efficiency of combining repair with protection is much more cost effective, and restoring the aerodynamics while also extending the period of protection makes it an extremely compelling maintenance strategy.”