Vestas completes drone inspection of 4,000 wind turbines

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European energy company Vestas, in partnership with Sulzer Schmid, has announced the successful completion of its wind turbine rotor blade inspections in 14 EU countries.

Sulzer Schmid provided its drone and associated technology which were used to collect smart data on the status of the wind turbines. FairWind, FaroWind, and ROBUR carried out blade inspections in the field.

Some 18 wind turbines were inspected per day and the data captured by the drones will be used by Vestas to optimise its asset management and maintenance. The wind turbines inspected are in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

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The data collected will enable Vestas to gain insights on the health status of its assets to better plan repairs and upgrade budgets and programmes. Vestas will access the data collected via a cloud platform.

Optimal management and maintenance help increase the life span of wind assets and avoid asset failure, according to a statement.

The project is the third partnership between Vestas and Sulzer Schmid on blade inspection and was completed within four months.

Lean Frandsen, Technical Planner, Special Task Nordic, Vestas Northern – Central Europe, said: “The 3DX™ Blade Platform helps us analyse and determine if repairs are necessary, in total transparency. Access to real-time information with mobile devices delivers an outstanding user experience, enabling us to answer questions from management and customers at any given time.”

Jöns Sjöstedt, Sr. Service Director Vestas Nordic, added: “Inspecting more than 1500 wind turbines in very remote locations during a short period of time was always going to be a challenge. With the outbreak of COVID-19, it was an even greater one. Sulzer Schmid fully met our expectations.”

Tom Sulzer, CEO of Sulzer Schmid added that the project “allows our clients to identify blade damage and make repairs at the right time, generating O&M cost savings and energy production gains.”

The use of drones to monitor utility assets continues to increase with spending by energy companies out-performing other sectors, according to a new report released by DroneAnalyst. However, the study found that regulation continues to be a barrier to the utility use of drones to inspect energy infrastructure.