Measure offers drone-based inspections of wind farms

September 19, 2017  - By

Measure, a U.S. provider of drone services to enterprise customers, has added turnkey wind farm inspection capabilities to its portfolio of aerial data collection solutions.

Wind farm operators can outsource preventive maintenance inspections to Measure’s drone pilots and data analysts for fast, accurate, safe and timely problem identification. The service helps avert critical turbine failures and efficiency losses while reducing repair downtime and its associated revenue impact.

The company’s drone inspection solution has already been used to successfully examine more than 400 MW of wind farms. The package spans all inspection and reporting functions, including state-of-the-art drone equipment, safe and insured flights by experienced drone pilots, efficient data processing that pinpoints both blade damage and severity, and damage reports and analytics available through a secure online portal.

Dry Lake Wind Power Project, Arizona (Photo: U.S. DOE)

Dry Lake Wind Power Project, Arizona (Photo: U.S. DOE)

Measure’s new wind farm inspection solution expands the company’s services to the renewable energy sector, which also include a robust suite of drone inspection solutions for solar plants that was announced in July.

The suite includes solar-panel inspections, drone-based site overview and maintenance, site shading and terrain analysis, thermal inverter scans, tracker misalignment detection and vegetation management analysis.

Benefits of Measure’s drone-based blade and tower inspections include:

  • 75% faster inspections than other methods, averaging 30 minutes or less per turbine compared to as much as two hours for manned inspections. This reduces excessive time commitments and allows large wind farms to be inspected more frequently. It also reduces labor costs for inspection and frees employees for other tasks.
  • Decreased injury risk in the field, with no threat of falls to inspectors climbing turbine structures or blades.
  • Better defect and damage detection because drones get closer to turbine blades than ground cameras, capturing clearer images. Undetected defects on the blades can result in continuous efficiency losses as high as 6% and associated revenue loss of up to $10,000 annually per turbine.
  • Maximized turbine availability and revenue generation through early problem detection that helps prevent critical failures and associated downtime for repairs.
  • Actionable data, including classified damage reports and historical portfolio analysis documenting turbine defects, failure rates and efficiency losses over time. Damage reports can be customized to display only the information needed by blade repair technicians with a few clicks.

“Many wind farms don’t inspect their turbines on a preventive maintenance basis, and those that do use ground crews with conventional cameras and zoom lenses. Under both conditions, there is a risk of failing to detect turbine damage or structural defects on blades that can worsen over time and lead to a catastrophic failure,” said Harjeet Johal, Measure vice president of energy infrastructure and a 10-year veteran of the renewable energy industry with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. “Our drone-based inspections provide multiple advantages that can help wind farm operators operate at peak capacity.”

“Our global wind portfolio is currently 1,033 MW with 877 MW in the U.S. alone. Knowing the health of our wind assets is essential for us to provide reliable power to our customers,” said Adam Brown, U.S. Drone Program Lead at The AES Corporation, a Fortune 200 global power company. “Using drones to inspect the blades and towers makes it safer for our people as they can stay firmly on the ground while still being able to inspect, at scale, hundreds of wind turbines to ensure they have the highest availability.”

 

Tracy Cozzens

About the Author:

Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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