Article first published on August 12st, 2019.
Our latest mission brought us to Romania: with temperatures hitting nearly 40 degrees Celsius, we came to the field to inspect wind turbines. By operating drones with the Sterblue App, we acted from the ground level and avoided climbing wind turbines in the heat of high summer.
What brought us to Romania?
Romania is the country with the highest wind potential in continental Europe. According to WindEurope, wind energy and other renewables could cover 35% of Romania’s electricity by 2030. In the future, in particular offshore wind farms might succeed: as the Black Sea is one of the natural borders of Romania, strong winds can be used to generate wind energy.
Considering the future perspectives of the Romanian wind power energy, we are happy to take the next step and bring Sterblue to Romania!
What did we do on field?
Travelling from Nantes to Bucharest, we aimed for both: inspecting wind turbines and training new drone pilots to the Sterblue App.
Drone pilot Andrei joined us from day one. He was instructed by Sterblue deployment specialist Tanguy Thuaud, who in the beginning guided him through operating with the Sterblue App. As Andrei is already experienced in inspecting wind turbines by piloting drones, the onboarding went very fluid and straightforward. After three days of inspections, Andrei already took the lead and successfully operated the drones until the end of the inspection process. He can now independently take over wind turbine inspections with Sterblue in the future.
The wind turbine inspection with Sterblue usually starts with a quick calibration to synchronize the measured sensor data with the physical data. Due to 3D flight plans that are created automatically, the drone then starts to inspect wind turbines with one click.
In the aftermath, the drone operator uploads the collected pictures to the Sterblue Cloud. Here, they are automatically analyzed and processed, with defects being detected by means of Artificial Intelligence and Blade Experts. An automatically created report presents a summary of the inspection, pointing out anomalies and broken structures.
Summer, heat, and further challenges
The conditions of the inspection were special: There was radiant sunshine with temperatures hitting nearly 40 degrees Celsius every day. Thanks to the Sterblue solution, we could do our operations from the ground level. There was no need to climb the wind turbines for doing the inspections manually.
Not only the heat, but also another factor proved to be challenging: the wind turbines were nearly constantly operating. Only for the inspection process, each wind turbine was stopped for about 30 minutes. To increase productivity, the inspection process needed to be planned very accurately: Within five wind farms that were located several 100 kilometres apart from each other, we needed to determine in advance which turbine when to inspect.
Even though the conditions were not perfect, we successfully inspected 42 wind turbines in six days! The hot weather was not only tough on the drone pilots, but also on the bees housing in a caravan on field. Remember to keep cool and hydrated out there ;)