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INEGI develops structural analysis tools to better monitor wind turbines

22 June 2023
Over the last 4 years, INEGI specialists in wind energy, in partnership with Vibest from the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (FEUP), have studied the structural alterations in wind turbines at an EDP Renováveis wind farm, having developed tools for processing data and structural analysis to better predict damage and make more informed decisions about equipment optimization and performance.

Among the main innovations, it is now possible to extrapolate results from a subset of instrumented wind turbines to the rest existing in a wind farm. As Silvina Guimarães, responsible for the project at INEGI, explains, "monitoring thus becomes more efficient, with lower costs and less downtime associated with the installation of monitoring equipment and inspection activities”.

During the study, the degree of impact that higher speed winds or more significant turbulence intensity had on the lifespan of the blades was verified. Simultaneously, the impact that wake effects have, both in terms of service life and electricity production, in wind farms was assessed.

Monitoring is a critical aspect of asset management

This project represents an important contribution in the field of wind energy, both on-shore and off-shore, allowing to optimize the management of the operation of wind turbines.

One of the biggest challenges in the wind energy sector in Portugal and in the world is the approaching end of the useful life of wind assets in the coming years. Decision makers can decide to extend the lifetime, proceed with decommissioning or carry out operations to increase power and continue to explore the asset, quantifying the remaining useful life or proceeding with refitting. In either case, "operational management from the beginning of the park's operation, combined with preventive maintenance, are important aspects in asset management. It is essential to know the state of the equipment in depth in order to make a decision” points out Gil Castro, who also participated in the project.

A better understanding of the integrity of the structure in real time also brings advantages to the offshore industry, given that the classic solutions for this type of wind turbines are not adequate for the depth of the coast and the significant dynamic forces that cause fatigue, wear and damage to the wind turbine structures .

The project «WindFarmSHM - Development, validation and optimization of strategies for monitoring the structural condition of wind farms on land and at sea» was co-funded by FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology, ref. PTDC/ECI-EST/29558/2017 . The Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto and WavEC also participated in the project.

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