Blades Europe Forum, 18 - 19 February 2020

Meet the Speaker: Diego Kieffer

About the Industry 

One of the big themes of this year’s event is dealing with wind farms reaching their end of life expectancy, what kind of challenges does this raise for Blade O&M?

At RES we find that as blades approach the end of their design life, one of the challenges raised is mitigating the risk of blade failure. This is why it’s so important to start planning for end-of-life early as this enables asset owners and operators to make better decisions on O&M strategies. 

Early planning will not only ensure that turbines are safe to operate but will maximise the energy yield and profits from a windfarm. For instance, decision on capital expenditures such as spares, installation of leading-edge protection (LEP) and vortex generators, will be easier for a wind farm that is expected to operate for a longer period. 

What do you think are the top 3 challenges facing the wind power industry, and in particular blade community, at the moment?

  1. One of the biggest challenges facing the industry at the moment is the lack of spend on blade maintenance. At RES, we find that many owners don’t see it as important as other parts on the wind farm. The reality is that postponing blade repairs increases the total cost of maintenance significantly. In addition, blades lose their efficiency if left unrepaired. RES has addressed this by showing owners how annual expenditure on blade maintenance can result in an overall cost reduction and an increase in energy production in the long term.
  2. Another challenge that the blade community faces is the seasonal nature of this type of work. Blade repairs are normally scheduled for the spring/summer months and there is a shortage of skilled blade technicians. Having a proactive long-term maintenance plan has allowed us to build up in-house capability and relationships with contractors to bring down costs and ensure that we make the most of the summer months.
  3. There is a lack of standardisation of blade defect classification and repair methods. We see varying levels of quality which not only impacts upon availability but also on the operational life of the blades. To help operators make more informed decision for clients, there needs to be a cross-industry move between operators, ISPs and OEMs to proactively share information to develop an industry-wide standard for repairs. Ideally achieving industry-wide standardisation would be the optimum solution, but greater information sharing would be a welcome first step.

About the Event

Why is the topic that you are speaking on important to you and the industry?

Developing long-term relationships with blade repair companies and mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) suppliers has enabled RES to have more flexibility when planning and managing works, ensuring we provide clients with the best value possible. 

Additionally, participating in conferences and working groups has helped us keep up-to-date on new technologies and increase our in-house knowledge. 

What other session on the agenda are you looking forward to attending and why?

Two sessions that I’m looking forward to attending include:

Higher Repair Standards and Value for Money: What to Factor into Your Sourcing Strategy. As quality control is something that is lacking in the industry I am interested to collaborate with the industry to move towards standardisation.  

Blades at Their End of Life: Repurposing, Recycling and the Second-Hand Blades Market. I am interested in this topic as I believe the repurposing and recycling of blades is something that everyone in the industry needs to consider and collaborate on to find the best solutions.

About the Speaker

How did you come to be in the wind power industry?

It was mainly by accident. Following my degree in Mechanical Engineering, I started as graduate with a consultancy that provided services for the design, condition monitoring of drivetrains for renewable assets. This involved lots of travel and visiting various wind farms worldwide which opened my eyes to how big the wind industry was becoming. I now work for RES, the world’s largest independent renewable energy company and help support a global portfolio of more than 5.5GW of renewable assets for variety of clients. 

What industry/sector would you be in, if you had not joined this one?

I have always had an interest in power generation, so I probably would have started my career working in conventional power generation. However, given how fast the wind industry was growing, the speed at which it is developing and how globalised the industry is I’m sure if I hadn’t joined it initially I would always have ended up working in renewables.