Complicated Measurements for Understanding Blade Dynamic


The Challenge

How do you measure the movements of a wind turbine blade in operation, and how do you combine these movements with the wind turbine’s energy production? At first sight, it might sound like a simple task. However, when considering the scale of today’s wind turbines having a blade length of about 80 meters, it can become a highly complex measurement task.

Furthermore, you should add the challenges of installing measuring equipment externally on a wind turbine exceeding 100 meters – and operating in all kinds of wind and weather, night, and day, etc. – and you are facing a very difficult challenge. That said, it was nevertheless the introduction to an exciting task from Vestas.

One of the requirements was, among other things, that the system should be able to measure blade dynamics at lengths up to 80 meters. In addition, it should also be able to forward measurement results to our data collection system. Requirements that GPower has fulfilled to a great extent. We will definitely recommend GPower to others who need experts for innovative development projects regarding test and measurement.


How We Solved the Task

In collaboration with Vestas’ engineers, we initially mapped out the operational requirements for the system. It is important to meet current requirements, but also to create a solution that can be adapted to future requirements for new blades, changed operating conditions, and desired features. The reason is that it increases return-on-investment significantly and minimizes time from reflection to action when new needs arise.

The solution became a customized and camera-based measuring instrument involving a high-performance real-time PXI system with a large FPGA for real-time data analysis. In addition, a PC server with 12 TB of storage for raw data. This system that is mounted in and on the blade operates while the wind turbine is operating.

The system offers real-time data collection and analysis, continuous transmission of processed measurement data to third parties, and backup of all raw data for later review and system optimization. It was also necessary to implement lossless data compression in real time to transport the huge amount of raw data over networks. In addition, a live view feature was developed. A feature that allows remote monitoring during installation and operation, just as it facilitated troubleshooting during development.

As always at GPower, we built the measuring instrument with modular software as the configuration makes it easy to customize the instrument for different needs. For example, the configuration allows adjustment to different blade dimensions as well as allowing replacement of hardware to set the right balance between the measurement parameters. Features that allow Vestas to customize the instrument to current and future blades.

At GPower, we were responsible for the hardware and the software design, development, and implementation. Additionally, we were involved in the development of the analysis algorithm for understanding the measured data. The equipment has run several measurement campaigns since September 2018, from which it has generated valuable knowledge for understanding blade dynamics.

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