'Climate of distrust' hindering blade maintenance

A culture of prioritising repair over inspection and maintenance needs to be overcome to improve asset performance.

OEM emphasis on turbine availability is failing to address weaknesses in blade O&M regimes
OEM emphasis on turbine availability is failing to address weaknesses in blade O&M regimes

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Speaking at Windpower Monthly's Blade O&M Europe event in Amsterdam, various speakers flagged up the growing gap between the contractual obligations under which O&M services are provided — often by the turbine suppliers themselves — and the needs of the wind farm operators.

The focus of full-service agreements is often on turbine availability, according to Stanislav Cetkovsky, head of O&M at Czech utility CEZ, meaning that blade maintenance is not a priority.

This can be a problem, espeically when O&M contracts reach the end of their duration, said E.on's fleet manager, Birgit Junker.

Speakers agreed that there was insufficient transparency in the industry about blade defects throughout their lifecycle. Sharing data on what happens to blades at different stages in various locations would benefit all parties, but efforts to be more transparent have been hindered by fears over intellectual property and legal implications.

Junker lamented the "climate of distrust" that prevails in the industry.

"We need to change this," she said, calling for a better understanding of what kinds of scheduled maintenance should be in place, instead of focusing on costly ad-hoc repairs.

"This approach would take away the guesswork and lead to better decision-making," she said.

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