Wind turbine blade surfaces degrade over time leading to reduced Annual Energy Production and increased cost of energy. This project will develop techniques for performing in-situ, quantitative measurements of leading edge surface roughness, and methods for converting these measurements into a quantitative decision tool for turbine owners O&M plans
The leading edges of wind turbine blades erode due to colliding with dust and rain droplets at speeds in excess of 300 km/h. This erosion causes reduced aerodynamic performance and hence reduced energy production. Currently, the degree of erosion is visually inspected from the ground using powerful optics and a human determines whether the blade is "OK" or needs to undergo repair. In this project we will develop a system which uses a flying drone (UAV - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) to image the blades, do high resolution 3D reconstruction of the blades' surface and exactly quantify the amount of erosion. Subsequently, these erosion measurements are turned into estimates of reduced Annual Energy Production (AEP). The turbine owner can then make a absolutely informed decision on whether to run the turbine for a while longer or to initiate repairs.