With the increasing blade length within both onshore and offshore wind there is a growing need for improved automated inspection methods of wind turbine blades. The cost of blade repair is increasing and the repair window decreasing for offshore turbines. Equally the damage progression rate and severity of wear and tear seen on longer blades suggest that the blade OPEX budget will be increasing radically in the coming years.
The standard external drone inspections used today, give a limited and static view of the external damages of the blade. What is needed is an in-depth understanding on how damages are evolving within the blade, i.e. sub surface and internal.
Statkraft has done in-situ test of IR imaging, i.e. thermographic inspection on several of our wind sites. Following a three-pronged research strategy we have 1. Tested passive vs. active thermography 2. External, internal vs. thermal thermography 3. Internal inspection with crawler. In addition, we are invited to be partner in the EUDP funded AQUADA-GO project, which are developing an AI for thermographic inspections of wind turbine blades. We will present the above results for improving blade maintenance.