Germany Probing Unmanned O&M Solutions

Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding a research project aiming to automate the evaluation of information on the condition of offshore installations through the use of drones and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs).

The ministry has set aside EUR 1.3 million for the IsyMoo (Intelligent integrative systems for monitoring surface protection systems on offshore wind energy structures) project up to the end of May 2021.

The project is bringing together experts from companies and universities to research how ROVs can document the condition of wind turbines in order to save time and money, the ministry said. The aim is to enable the maintenance specialists to evaluate the data in real time on the mainland and to maintain or repair the installations as soon as this is needed.

As part of the IsyMoo project, sensors are being tested that are integrated into the coatings on the turbine towers. If the sensors recognise a change in material, for example, they forward this information to a drone or an ROV. These then transmit the sensor information to the control centre together with images taken by thermal imaging cameras and signals generated by ultrasonic systems.

The photos and data obtained are to be automatically evaluated by technology such as machine-learning. This involves using a computer programme that continuously learns and grows in knowledge based on the information that is fed in, serving to speed up the rate at which visible damage is detected. In this way, the maintenance personnel receive ever more precise information about the condition of the wind installations, the ministry said, adding that this information can be used to consistently optimise maintenance cycles.

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