Raytec White-Light and Infra-Red LED illuminators have been used to help monitor blade erosion and identify maintenance requirements at a windfarm in the Austrian Alps.
The Alps are a major mountain range in Europe and Austria accounts for a large portion of the area, covering spectacular geographical features such as lakes and glaciers. The shear height of these mountains and the speed of the winds which blow across them, make this portion of the Alps particularly suitable for wind turbines.
However, blade erosion is a common problem with wind turbines. The coatings of the turbine’s blades degrade over time due to the severe weather conditions with one big contributing factor is rain-drop bombardment, which has the same effect as tiny bullets hitting the blades. In addition, ice build-up causes cracking and the effects of solar radiation cause the coatings to expand and contract and eventually peel off.
The client was in search of a solution that would allow them to monitor the condition of the turbines’ blades remotely, without having to physically send someone up to inspect. In addition, the client also wanted to monitor bird strikes (collision of a bird with the turbine) and anything not operating properly. The nature of the application meant costs associated with access or maintenance are significant and presented health and safety concerns.
Remote monitoring would allow the client to assess the damage, make a judgement on its severity and decide how to correct the issue before sending someone to site to repair it. Good quality lighting was essential to gain an accurate image of the blades and to ensure no damage was missed.
The vast altitude of these mountain regions causes colder temperatures during the winter and warm summers. Altitude determines the precipitation pattern; and the higher-level areas will most likely experience a high average rainfall, heavy thunderstorms, including heavy hail and snowfall, even in the summer. With this been said it was critical that any equipment the client used was suitable for these harsh and extreme conditions.
The solution and why was Raytec chosen?
Raytec’s RAYLUX (White-Light) and RAYMAX (Infra-Red) Panoramic illuminators were installed at the top of the turbine to provide general night-time images of the blades. Providing powerful 180° illumination, the illuminators provided excellent coverage of the entire blade, delivering outstanding images which the client could use to closely monitor their condition and identify any required maintenance; before sending anyone on the long journey to the top of the mountain (and then to the top of the turbine itself!).
Installing the RAYLUX technology allows true colour images of the blades to be produced, showing the extent of damage caused through the bird collisions or general erosion. The long-life and zero-maintenance of Raytec’s illuminators was a major factor in the client’s decision; regular maintenance would be costly given the remote location and difficulties associated with gaining access.
Suitable for temperatures down to -50°C (-58°F), IP66 rated and supported by Raytec’s proven track record (with products installed across the world, in a wide-range of challenging conditions) would ensure the illuminators were also capable of withstanding the harsh conditions at the top of the turbine.
The ability of Raytec technology to deliver the required performance such as power output, reliability, suitability for harsh conditions, and zero maintenance were all huge factors in the client choosing Raytec for this installation. Furthermore, this solution has helped to showcase the sort of diverse applications that Raytec’s illuminators can be put to. We truly are the ‘lighting innovators’.
Thanks to PanoCloud for providing us with the images!