An innovative Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) for use on wind turbine towers has been successfully trialled at ORE Catapult’s National Renewable Energy Centre using their 27m high wind turbine training tower.
Newcastle-based Invisotech, providers of inspection and analytical solutions for high-value assets, has developed and successfully trialled the ROV at a series of field trials around the UK, and most recently at the Blyth-based facility. This particular ROV was fitted with a Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) probe and high-definition video equipment to carry out detailed remote inspections of weld seams providing interpretive analysis in terms of potential maintenance requirements.
By integrating these technologies it is predicted that it will reduce the overall operation and maintenance (O&M) costs associated with these procedures, especially as it can be utilised when the turbine is still operating; delivering a safer, more efficient and cost effective inspection process for high-value assets.
ORE Catapult’s training tower was used to demonstrate the operability and effectiveness of the sensor in monitoring for defects in a real-life environment and was supported as part of an European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) project – Renewable Energy Technology Accelerator (RETA) programme – which has been set up to collaborate with North East SMEs to develop new technologies and services in the offshore renewables sector.
These early stage proof of concept trials have proved highly successful to date and were witnessed by both ORE Catapult’s Innovation and Research team and a number of interested investor and client groups.
Ken Storey, Invisotech Product Director, said: “We are delighted with the achievements made on these first trials. We are very grateful to ORE Catapult for their support and commitment in helping Invisotech and our development partners in bringing this technology to the renewable energy sector.
“Maintaining high-value asset integrity is of prime importance to our potential wind industry clients and this ROV is one example of where Invisotech can bring new technology to meet their current objectives and future needs, and play its part in helping to drive down the levelised cost of wind energy.”
James Battensby, RETA Programme Manager for ORE Catapult, said: “The RETA programme has successfully engaged with over 50 SMEs in the North East via a range of technical workshops and research support. Reducing O&M costs in the offshore wind sector will be critical to supporting the Government’s ambition of reducing the levelised cost of energy of offshore wind power to £100/MWhr over the next few years.
“ORE Catapult is pleased to have been able to collaborate and support Invisotech at this early proof of concept stage to allow it to fully demonstrate its technology and subsequent benefits to industry.”