In May, the eleven partners of the collaborative European project TowerPower met in Aix-en-Provence (France) to kick it off. The project aims to develop a remote real time monitoring system for the ageing diagnosis of offshore wind turbine structures. This development meets a real demand from the offshore wind park operators looking for maintenance cost reductions by increasing time between onsite inspections. The project will last 3 years within a budget close to 2million euros.
Coordinated by the cluster Capenergies (FR), the TowerPower project will involve:
• Associations having activities in the wind energy sector, who will carry out the dissemination and exploitation scheme of the innovation: Capenergies (FR), Cylsolar (ES) and Associazione Italiana Prouver non Distruttive – AIPnD (IT).
• Pilot SME’s interested by the technology, who will contribute to orientate the research work: Kingston Computer Consulting, Moniteye, Teknisk Data AS, WLB and TecopySA.
• Research centres in charge of the system design, development and validation: CETIM, Innora and TWI.
A typical substructure for an offshore wind turbine generator consists of a foundation structure (piles/buckets), a monopile/jacket, a transition piece and a tower. The main ageing phenomena observed are:
• Instances of fatigue cracking in the support towers.
• Flange bolts at the ends of the tower sections becoming loose.
• Higher than expected levels of vibration, which could cause either of the above mechanisms.
• Degradation of the grouted joint between the pile and transition piece in offshore installations.
Relying on a network of sensors of various natures, on amplifying electronics and on advanced signal processing algorithms, the TowerPower solution will enable self-learning of the normal behavior ‘signature’ of the structure and to detect any deviation from the initial record. Meanwhile, the system will contribute to a better understanding of physic-chemical phenomena leading to flaws triggering.
The intellectual property generated through the project, including eventual patent applications, will be jointly owned by the participating associations, which may conclude in licenses agreements with the participating SME’s, their member companies and even other companies in the world. Thus, Capenergies will benefit from a remarkable development instrument for its action in the field of offshore wind energy, regionally and beyond, in line with its strategic priorities and those of the PACA region in the frame of its ‘smart specialisation’.
The TowerPower project is co-financed by the European Commission within the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Development.