Robot Repairs Rain-Damaged Wind Turbine Blades

After over 18 months in operation, having repaired over 150 rain-damaged onshore wind turbine blades in the U.S., Canada, South Africa and Europe, the patented robot from Denmark’s Rope Robotics has demonstrated return on investment for turbine owners in just six months.

Rope Robotics’ BR-8 robot can restore up to 3 percent energy output in less than one day per blade at half the cost of manual solutions.

Rain erosion damage compromises aerodynamic performance of a blade and, at worst, can lead to blade failure and expensive turbine downtime. Compared to manual alternatives, the robot can repair a blade about four times faster at half the cost. The repairs offered by Rope Robotics not only restore turbine power output but are quick, cost-effective, efficient and safe for technicians to perform in all but the most inclement weather conditions. Previously, technicians have had to abseil from the nacelle to the blade and work with harmful chemicals, a high-risk work environment that is weather dependent, risky and costly.

On site, the 150-kg robot is first attached to ropes that have been anchored in the nacelle before it
is hoisted some 100 m from the ground onto the damaged blade, which has been fixed in a
vertical position. A vacuum system enables the robot to attach itself firmly while motors enable
movement across the blade. Using its onboard high-resolution camera and laser scanner, the robot
inspects the surface, sending images to the remote operator, who diagnoses the damage and
initiates the repair process in real time.

Efficient leading-edge repair contributes to life extension of one of the most expensive components
on a wind turbine, accounting for 25 to 30 percent of the build cost.

Learn more here.

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