GE unveils new blade inspection system

UNITED STATES: GE Renewable Energy has launched a new ground-based blade inspection tool using thermal imaging and acoustic spectral analysis at Windpower Monthly's Blade O&M Forum in Texas.

GE believes its system will reduce the need for up-tower inspections (pic: Kristen Hough)

The system will be located at the base of a turbine. It can detect anomalies under the surface of the blade and provide real time data across a full turbine fleet.

Thermal imaging will be used to detect cracks, delamination or bonding issues below the blades surface.

Meanwhile, acoustic spectrum analysis of the noise a blade makes will enable operators to determine if a blade is not performing as expected.

It lowers the need for up-tower inspections and means the turbine does not have to be powered down for a long period during surveying, the manufacturer said.

On average, inspection time for each turbine takes 15 minutes with the new system.

"Most down-tower blade inspections are limited to showing what's happening with the surface of a blade. Many of the issues that lead to larger failures are deeper within the blade itself," said GE’s CEO of digital services, Anne McEntee.

"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," McEntee added.

The system is currently only available in North America, but is expected to be rolled out to other regions "in the coming months".

GE is unveiling the self-contained tool at the Blade O&M Forum, taking place in Dallas, Texas (9-11 October) hosted by Windpower Monthly. You can find out more about the event here

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