Scottish company develops tower-mounted O&M solution

UK: A Scottish specialist in solutions for working at height is developing a new way to access offshore wind turbine blades.

Span Access has also developed solutions for bridge repair work

Typically, operations and maintenance (O&M) technicians use ropes and access platforms suspended from the turbine nacelle to repair blade damage or install performance upgrades.

But Scottish company Span Access Solutions is developing a tower-mounted blade access system and "habitat" for easier and quicker access.

It is still designing its Blade Access System and Working Environment (Base), but eventually plans to demonstrate a prototype on ORE Catapult’s 7MW Levenmouth demonstration turbine in east Scotland.

The firm claims a tower-mounted system could reduce maintenance costs, minimise turbine downtime and lost revenue, while increasing repair quality and performance upgrades.

It has received £830,000 from the government’s Innovate UK development programme for its modular access platform, and believes the technology could reduce levelised cost of energy by 0.6%.

Roger Turner, managing director of Span Access, said: "The Base solution will be faster to deploy and more flexible to use than traditional suspended platforms and so the revenue lost from forced turbine shutdowns associated with blade maintenance will be substantially reduced."

He added that by controlling the temperature and humidity within the "habitat", the time window in workers are able to carry out repairs could be increased.