GE reveals new inspection technology for wind turbines

  • Over 1,500 turbines had already been inspected using the technology.
  • The new system uses thermal imaging technology and wide band acoustic spectral analysis to look for anomalies.
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GE Renewable Energy has announced details of a high-speed blade inspection system for wind turbines.

In a statement Tuesday, the firm said that over 1,500 turbines had already been inspected using the technology, with inspection time per unit taking under 15 minutes, on average.

The new system uses thermal imaging technology and wide band acoustic spectral analysis to look for anomalies on blades. It works on both GE and non-GE turbines and can provide real time data analytics.

Ground-based, it lessens the need for "up-tower inspections" and does not need wind assets to be "powered down" for prolonged amounts of time, GE said.

It can detect several issues that could be harmful to a blade, such as fatigue cracks, defective repairs and splits. The inspection technology is set up at the base of a turbine, making a number of recordings while the blades turn under an active load.

"Wind turbine blade inspections have come a long way," Anne McEntee, CEO of Digital Services at GE Renewable Energy, said. "Ground scopes, drones, and tap testing are just a few of the methods that operators have used to help prevent against failures both small and catastrophic," she added.

Most "down-tower" blade inspections were limited to showing what was happening with the surface of a blade, McEntee explained, adding that many of the issues that lead to bigger failures were deeper within the blade.

"The ability to also look beyond the exterior coating of the blade, regardless of manufacturer, marks a significant advance in blade inspection technology for the entire wind industry."

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