Blade inspection and maintenance specialist, Altitec, has completed end of warranty (EOW) blade inspections at the Amakhala Wind Farm in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The inspections, which look for production failures, or other sources of damage, including lighting damages, was performed in partnership with Nordex Energy South Africa.
Anne Henschel, Managing Director of Nordex Energy South Africa: at Nordex said:, “We know that turbine blades that are regularly inspected and maintained to a high standard remain costefficient. “By partnering with Altitec to deliver MWS services, our clients can be assured that their turbines will perform at optimal levels for as long as possible, reducing costs and improving overall wind farm performance in the process.”
End of warranty agreement
Under the terms of the contract, Altitec carried out EOW inspections on 54 turbines, each with a height of 91m, the UK-based maintenance specialist said in a statement. Inspection work began on the first turbine blades in December 2016, and was completed this summer. Tom Dyffort, managing director, Altitec Group explained that the lack of local technicians posed a big challenge.
“For our South African work we are currently flying in technicians from overseas, but whenever possible we look to invest in training local rotor blade technicians,” Dyffort said.
With the EOW period, responsibility for assessing turbines moves from the original manufacturer to the project owner. By carrying out maintenance at this point, Nordex is helping to avoid any project downtime or financial losses later in the wind farm’s lifecycle.
Altitec also benefits from the range of technological equipment and expertise at its disposal; use of the Actsafe powered rope ascender, for instance, boosts the efficiency of Altitec’s technicians, allowing them to carry out up to 35% more work when compared with traditional rope access techniques. Dyffort said: “EOW inspections are not only necessary, but a great opportunity for turbine manufacturers to add value and optimise performance into the future.
We were delighted to continue developing our global footprint by carrying out this work at Amakhala on behalf of Nordex.”
According to Dyffort: “Carrying out blade inspections and maintenance on 54 turbines is a significant undertaking, but the skills and experience of our technicians allowed us to complete this work as quickly as possible, while adhering to the high standards Altitec’s customers have come to expect.” Dyffort explained that a typical inspection can be done in 4 to 6 hours using drones, or in roughly 4 hours by rotor blade technicians carrying out hands-on EOW inspections. He added that drones are useful for monitoring turbine inspections but are less useful for EOW inspections themselves, as you need to be very close to the blades to make a detailed assessment of their condition.