GE, ORE Catapult Back EchoBolt Technology
UK company Energy Integrity Services has been developing new technology that should save the European wind industry GBP 250 million annually in maintenance costs.
The development of EchoBolt, which uses ultrasonics to test the tension on the wind turbine bolts, is funded by Innovate UK and is now also supported by GE Renewable Energy and the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. GE and ORE Catapult will accommodate the deployment of the EchoBolt prototype at the Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine and then on one of GE’s operational wind turbines.
The technology is said to be able to reduce manual working at offshore wind farms and drastically cut the cost of inspecting and retorquing wind turbine bolts.
EchoBolt relies on a hand-held ultrasonic inspection device that records sound echoes within bolts, demonstrating exactly when a bolt needs retightening, with the potential to reduce the frequency of bolt maintenance significantly. An additional advantage of the solution is the data it will supply to wind farm operators, allowing them to predict the loss of tension likely on a turbine’s bolts and schedule routine inspections more accurately, reducing unnecessary workdays spent offshore, according to ORE Catapult.
“We look forward to seeing how EchoBolt performs in real-world conditions: digitalising operations is a focus of our own research for equipping the renewables industry of the future,” said Vincent Schellings, General Manager for Engineering and Product Management, GE Offshore Wind.
The EchoBolt technology concept has been developed by Peter Andrews, founder of Energy Integrity Services, a Stratford-based microbusiness. Andrews came up with the idea after working as a wind farm O&M manager, and founded Energy Integrity Services to support the industry in driving down its maintenance costs, ORE Catapult writes.
“The first time I visited an offshore wind farm, I witnessed technicians having to work in very confined, hazardous spaces in the foundations. I thought there must be a far less labour-intensive (and safer) way of doing the job. That’s when the seed for EchoBolt was sown,” said Peter Andrews.