Offshore Wind Farm Monitoring Systems

Two Different Concepts

Offshore wind farms are crucial in harnessing the immense power of wind energy, contributing to a sustainable and eco-friendly future. However, the maintenance and operation of these offshore facilities pose unique challenges. The harsh marine environment, remote locations, and complex infrastructure require advanced monitoring and maintenance solutions.

Concept 1

Fig. 1 Global monitoring system using VTOL Drone equipped with IR and EO combined sensors.

Long-Range VTOL Drone for Wind Turbine Inspection This concept involves using a Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) drone for long-range, long-endurance flight missions to inspect wind turbines. Here are the key points:

  1. Autonomous Monitoring: Our system allows for autonomous live monitoring of wind turbines using thermal and electro-optical sensors. This provides a comprehensive view of the turbines’ condition without the need to shut them down.
  2. Versatile Launch: The drone can be launched from land, eliminating the need for a boat to access the turbine area. This makes the inspection process more flexible and cost-effective.
  3. Day and Night Inspection: Thermal imaging is particularly effective at night when temperature differences are more pronounced, providing clear data for assessment.
  4. Emergency Response: The system can be used for unplanned night inspections and spontaneous damage evaluation, which is crucial for prompt response to emergencies.
  5. Reduced Human Involvement: The system operates autonomously or in a semi-autonomous mode, reducing the need for human involvement during the inspection process, which can enhance efficiency and safety.

Concept 2

Autonomous Drone Carrier Platform for Deeper Inspection This concept involves an Autonomous Drone Carrier Platform with multiple multicopter drones and underwater vehicles for more thorough wind turbine inspection. Key features include:

  1. Comprehensive Inspection: The platform carries multiple multicopter drones that take off from the deck to inspect individual wind turbine towers and blades from short distances. This allows for detailed, close-up assessments.
  2. Underwater Inspection: Unmanned underwater vehicles linked to the platform are used to conduct inspections of the turbine foundations. This adds another dimension to the inspection process and ensures a comprehensive assessment of the entire system.
  3. Autonomous Operation: The entire inspection process is autonomous or optionally semi-autonomous, making it suitable for routine preventive maintenance planning. This minimizes the need for human intervention and streamlines the inspection workflow.
Fig. 2 Representation of combined detailed inspection using Autonomous Drone Carrier Platform

Both concepts have their advantages. Concept 1 is well-suited for general condition monitoring and emergency response, while Concept 2 offers a more comprehensive inspection approach. Depending on the specific needs and objectives of wind turbine operators, either or both concepts could be valuable additions to maintenance and inspection strategies.