Onshore wind turbine inspection and cleaning company Aerones announced that it received a 2.5M € ($2.9M) grant from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to expand its turbine blade inspection, maintenance and repair offerings to offshore wind.
The grant will be used to adapt the company’s already established onshore technology so it can be used in offshore applications. Aerones’ robotized access and maintenance system is expected to reduce crew transfer vessel fuel costs and emissions, reduce overall project execution times and extend the service life of the turbine blades while supporting local coastal infrastructure, said the company.
The project will be implemented over 3 years in close cooperation with field trial partners including GE Renewable Energy and consortium partners SIA Saunora (Latvia) and Tethys Energy Services (United Kingdom). The objective of the project is to develop a remotely operated maintenance system for offshore wind turbines. The development will require a significant amount of R&D to adapt Aerones technologies for the sea.
“Applying the existing Aerones technology offshore poses a set of unique environmental and operational challenges. Limited accessibility near the base of the turbine will require lightweight tubular steel platform design, sea service vessel operational limitations will have to be compensated for heave motion, and remote operation safety factors will all have to be addressed to name a few,”, said Vincent Schellings, GM Offshore Wind Engineering GE Renewable Energy.
For onshore turbines, Aerones has developed a computer controllable winch access system, robotic manipulation arms with various specific tools and overall control and quality assurance video monitoring suite. Using the onshore solution, Aerones has serviced over 200 turbines over the last 3 months alone. Thus far, Aerones’ technology has serviced GE, Vestas, Nordex and Siemens Gamesa wind turbines.
Overall, building on innovations in wind turbine maintenance and inspection and adapting them to offshore applications supports local coastal infrastructure results in creating jobs and making offshore wind more affordable and sustainable.