SSE Blade Inspection Drone Campaign
As part of a 3-year framework, Innovair has been contracted to conduct wind turbine blade inspections for SSE across all their onshore assets in the UK and Ireland. SSE Renewables, the leading owner, operator, and developer of onshore wind farms in the UK and Ireland, manages nearly 2GW of onshore wind capacity in Great Britain and Ireland. Additionally, they have over 1GW under development in these markets. The blade inspection season typically spans from April to July each year. Innovair's primary responsibility is to complete the blade inspections within this period, allowing for advanced planning of any necessary blade repairs.
What did we do?
A team of two Innovair inspectors are mobilised with their autonomous drone system. Innovair utilise a custom-built vehicle which houses all equipment required for continuous battery charging and continuous flight operations.
The autonomous drone system provides 100% coverage of the external blade structure using an automated flight path that is repeated for each blade. Each automated flight covers all four angles of the blade with no pitching required.
The inspection system captures the following blade components:
Leading & Trailing Edge
Pressure & Suction Side
Blade Hub Connection
The payload also has integrated LiDAR unit which ensures drone and payload are kept an optimal distance to the blade and for superior data collection and safety. The system can inspect a variety of blade types. On average, the inspection team can inspect 10 WTGs per day, around 30 blades.
What were the results?
During the inspection around 4Gb of high-resolution consistent images are collected per blade using the Sony A7RIV 61Mpx payload.
Reports were generated after the inspections, analysed by our qualified blade inspectors. Reports can be exported as PDF’s or simply viewed online allowing the client to focus on critical damages, organise repairs and keep turbines running.
We can also monitor the evolution of damage over time and cross reference from different blade data sources such as internal visual data.
What were the benefits?
Utilising an autonomous drone solution means we can collect imagery accurately, measure, and analyse critical damage in order to coordinate blade repairs. Our service is fully repeatable, gathering data over several years our client can track defects and repairs to prevent severe failure in the blades. We can also monitor the evolution of damage over time and cross reference from different blade data sources such as internal visual data.
Manual drone inspections are subject to human error, whereas automated flights provide the drone with situational awareness and are far more sensitive and accurate compared than a manual flight being carried out from the ground.
By completing blade inspections our client has ensured their turbine portfolio maintains maximum operational efficiency and any deterioration can be timely managed and repaired.
Client Focal Point Feedback
"Thank you for making things so easy, clear plans and excellent communication has meant that working with you guys has been a pleasure every season."