TWI as experts in innovative solutions for the inspection of onshore and offshore wind turbines

29 June 2023

Why did you join the MAREWIND project and what’s your role?

MAREWIND project intends to provide solutions for developing advanced materials and nanotechnologies that will contribute to accelerating clean energy adoption for the energy transition within Europe. The overall concept of extended service life of wind-facilities is critical especially for renewable energies and this scope/goal fascinated TWI to join MAREWIND. Within our team,  we manage work packages by internal technical help and contractual support.

As expert in innovative solutions for the inspection of both onshore and offshore wind turbines, what are your ambitions in contributing to the European renewable energy targets?  

To achieve the European renewable energy targets, it is crucial to maximise the efficiency and reliability of wind turbines, both onshore and offshore. TWI will continue contributing towards renewable energy targets, via testing and evaluation of materials and components, service life-span performance, remote monitoring and inspection, artificial intelligence and machine learning, robotics and automation or in data integration and analytics.

 What are the main solutions you are exploring to face challenges in the framework of the offshore wind industry?

Rain erosion poses significant challenges in the framework of the offshore wind industry. Offshore wind turbines are exposed to various environmental conditions, and rain erosion is a key factor that negatively affects their performance and lifespan and requires regular maintenance.

The impact of rain-erosion on wind turbines is centred on blade erosion, particularly at the leading edge. This leads to loss of efficiency, increased maintenance costs, safety concerns and increased downtime. In this context, these challenges are mitigated by blade coatings, regular inspections, improved blade design, maintenance strategies and by monitoring weather conditions.

In MAREWIND, what have been the main challenges to validate the testing of antierosion superhydrophobic and what you have achieved?

In MAREWIND, our focus is to improve life-expectancy of wind-turbine blades by improving blade coatings. The main challenges to validate the testing of antierosion superhydrophobic coatings were to design a system that not only provide external features of hydrophobicity but also provide a strong inter-layer adhesion to the glass-fibre epoxy substrates. The impact of rain droplets at high velocities generate high intensity shock waves that propagate from the surface through to the composite. These shockwaves can cause delamination of coatings and damage to the composite. To mitigate such damage a hybrid system of primer-layer, flexible inter-layer and hard-top layer is introduced. Through the application of the coatings by using industrial standard spray coating deposition method, TWI has demonstrated the property blend of repellency, abrasion resistance and erosion resistance.

 How do you see the future of the MAREWIND project?

The future of MAREWIND project is very exciting. A lot of work has been undertaken and much data has been generated during the first 30 months of the project. Translation of initial results to field application will be key to developing innovative technical solutions that can be demonstrated and eventually adopted at industrial scale.

Read more about TWI here.