Volume 3, issue 2 | Copyright
Wind Energ. Sci., 3, 729-748, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research articles 19 Oct 2018

Research articles | 19 Oct 2018

Extending the life of wind turbine blade leading edges by reducing the tip speed during extreme precipitation events

Jakob Ilsted Bech, Charlotte Bay Hasager, and Christian Bak Jakob Ilsted Bech et al.
  • Department of Wind Energy, Technical University of Denmark, Roskilde, 4000, Denmark

Abstract. Impact fatigue caused by collision with rain droplets, hail stones and other airborne particles, also known as leading-edge erosion, is a severe problem for wind turbine blades. Each impact on the leading edge adds an increment to the accumulated damage in the material. After a number of impacts the leading-edge material will crack. This paper presents and supports the hypothesis that the vast majority of the damage accumulated in the leading edge is imposed at extreme precipitation condition events, which occur during a very small fraction of the turbine's operation life. By reducing the tip speed of the blades during these events, the service life of the leading edges significantly increases from a few years to the full expected lifetime of the wind turbine. This life extension may cost a negligible reduction in annual energy production (AEP) in the worst case, and in the best case a significant increase in AEP will be achieved.

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Short summary
Rain erosion on wind turbine blades is a severe challenge for wind energy today. It causes significant losses in power production, and large sums are spent on inspection and repair. Blade life can be extended, power production increased and maintenance costs reduced by rotor speed reduction at extreme precipitation events. Combining erosion test results, meteorological data and models of blade performance, we show that a turbine control strategy is a promising new weapon against blade erosion.
Rain erosion on wind turbine blades is a severe challenge for wind energy today. It causes...