RGU research project ‘could save offshore windfarms £1bn’

Magallanes' test turbine being installed at Emec
Magallanes' test turbine being installed at Emec

Robert Gordon University (RGU) has announced it is to partner on a project capable of saving the offshore wind sector more than £1 billion.

The project, run through Innovate UK, is said to be worth £830,000 and will provide a “stable working environment” for technicians during blade maintenance.

RGU claims the new system will reduce maintenance costs and minimise turbine downtime while increasing the quality and speed of repairs and performance upgrades.

Arthur Stewart, senior ergonomics researcher and project leader at RGU, said: “Tasks such as repairing and upgrading turbine blades are typically performed by rope access technicians suspended from the top of the turbine. This can lead to lengthy delays and difficulties due to variable weather and working conditions.

“Our role at RGU will include a series of experiments to compare the effectiveness of completing manual tasks while standing, compared with when suspended on a harness – both at RGU and Span Access’s purpose-built ropes training facility in Kinross.

“We will also complete an ergonomics analysis and health and safety audit of the prototype BASE environment, to ensure it can meet its requirements as effectively as possible. This will go alongside a scoping review to update the evidence base on the health risks of this type of work.”

The Blade Access System and Working Environment (BASE) project will create an prototype access solution for a number of blade designs.

The finished prototype will then be demonstrated at ORE Catapult’s 7MW Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine in Fife.