Rain erosion damage to wind turbine blades is not only related to climatic change and the harsh environment where wind turbines are typically installed, it is also a result of the blades becoming longer. They are now generating tip speeds of over 300 km/h, which dramatically increases the impact from rain droplets. Over time, these will work their way through the surface protection, causing damage to the aerodynamic performance. After four years of developing and testing an efficient service solution for the growing number of wind turbine blades requiring maintenance on the leading edges, Vestas introduced BladeRobots A/S as a standalone company to the market in December 2022.
Blades are the wind turbine’s most expensive component and are crucial to energy production and revenue generation. However, if maintenance is neglected, erosion and minor damage can result in reduced efficiency and productivity losses. As a result, the wind industry constantly faces a backlog of experienced and skilled repair technicians, and the race to educate new technicians is falling behind the demand for the manpower required for new installations, as well as maintenance and servicing of existing wind turbines.
This was one of the reasons to rethink the method of performing labor-intensive blade maintenance work, while also improving technicians’ health and safety environment by reducing the overall risk associated with working at heights.