As the UK continues its rapid expansion of offshore wind, operation and maintenance (O&M) costs will increase drastically if action is not taken. Therefore, it’s a priority for the sector to reduce the cost of O&M – everything from building the largest blades to inspecting the smallest bolts.
As part of an Innovate UK-funded project, ORE Catapult has partnered with EchoBolt, the leading provider of fastener inspection services in the wind energy sector. It has developed an inspection system that uses ultrasonics to test the tension on the bolts that hold wind turbine structures together. As well as detecting faults, the sophisticated technology also allows for predictions to be made about where these faults are likely to appear – making scheduled maintenance procedures much more accurate and cost efficient. EchoBolt’s technology promises to reduce the costs associated with offshore wind farm bolted connections by a staggering 80%, which results in an estimated saving of £250m/year for the European wind industry (both offshore and onshore).
Partnering with ORE Catapult has offered EchoBolt huge and exciting opportunities for developing its inspection technology. ORE Catapult has supported EchoBolt in securing Innovate UK funding to expand the capabilities of its technology as well as providing access to our 7MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine for further testing in simulated real-world conditions. EchoBolt has also taken advantage of our contacts with GE Renewables and has secured a further testing and validation project on GE’s operational turbines this year.