The TowerPower project is collaboration between RTD (TWI LTD, INNORA and CETIM), SME-AG and others.
As project SME-AGs participants Capenergies, AlPnD, AEE and CYL, with targeted profiling within wind energy, say “This is a rapidly expanding sector and there is little information about likely rates of structural degradation and failure modes. In addition, experience from operation of older wind farms is of limited value, because the specification of these installations is evolving rapidly, with the capacity - and therefore size and weight - of the generator becoming larger and the consequent dimensions of the tower increasing. The effect is that it is very difficult to extrapolate experience with existing structures to the likely behaviour of new ones”.
Inspection and maintenance actions are the most relevant and effective means of control of deterioration. On offshore wind installations, there are very large surface areas/volumes of material to be examined making the inspection task sizable. However, there is no established structural monitoring industry dedicated to the wind sector, presenting severe cost constraints on the inspection operations. Cost-effective automated monitoring systems that do not need regular human intervention are needed, particularly for offshore installations. The SME-AGs do not have adequate resources to develop the solution and require the expertise of TWI (NDT), CETIM (Sensor systems design), and Innora (Control and acquisition systems).