The effects of leading edge erosion on a wind turbine.

April 22, 2019 Paolo Rocca

top of wind turbine

Leading edge erosion is a serious and costly issue in wind energy.

It impacts the reliability of wind turbine blades, which in turn causes performance decreases. The result? Additional maintenance costs and drops to your Annual Energy Production (AEP). Depending on the erosion category level, your AEP could drop anywhere between 1% to 15%.

You can start to see the effects of leading edge erosion on a wind turbine blade as soon as rain or sand begins impacting the clear coat top layer of the blades – the drag increases and the lift decreases.

Initially minimal, the effects of leading edge erosion on wind turbine blade performance is made worse over time, as the erosion consumes the top coat and reaches the lower layers of the epoxy and composite. At this stage, the drag has more than doubled and the lift has decreased further, causing noticeable and significant decrease in AEP.

Furthermore, the wind turbine blades can begin to cause harmful vibration, impacting other parts of the wind turbine, such as the rotor, which can lead to more damage.top of wind turbine

Why should you care about blade performance?

A wind farm must run as efficiently as possible to maximize profits. Issues, like leading edge erosion, impact the efficiency and should be tackled as early as possible, but even more importantly, issues that can impact asset longevity and reliability must be a top priority.

It’s also important to remember that the worse the erosion, the longer the repair.

Turbine blade repair needs to be done carefully with excellent surface preparation to maximize the benefit and reliability of the repair. Additionally, due to the location often chosen for wind farms, the weather can quickly change and there can be a short window to repair the blade.

We looked at our technologies and asked ourselves what is a viable solution for wind turbine blade repair? It needed to be easy, reliable, quick to install and strong, and the 3M™ Wind Protection Tape 2.0 checked all those boxes.

How 3M™ Wind Protection Tape 2.0 is helping solve the leading edge erosion problem for wind farm owners.

3M™ Wind Protection Tape 2.0 can be applied in the field on the blade, without removing it from the turbine. It can be installed quickly, maximizing the short window of good weather afforded to the installer. Its consistent thickness helps to ensure that the entire leading edge from top to bottom is properly protected for maximum reliability and longevity.

Tech highlight: 3M™ Wind Protection Tape 2.0 is made with a tough, highly durable polyurethane elastomer. This helps extend the life of your blade by protecting against erosion, which could result in blade failure, and ultimately severely impacting the entire wind turbine.”

Five key benefits of choosing 3M™ Wind Protection Tape 2.0 for turbine blade repair:

  1. You don’t need to remove the blades from the turbine to apply 3M™ Wind Protection Tape 2.0.
  2. 3M™ Wind Protection Tape 2.0 can be installed dry or wet, depending on the preference of the installer.
  3. 3M™ Wind Protection Tape 2.0 installs in just a few hours, allowing for an entire turbine (3 blades) to be completed in just one day.
  4. Even with prolonged exposure to UV rays, 3M™ Wind Protection Tape 2.0 is designed to resist erosion from rain and sand.
  5. 3M™ Wind Protection Tape 2.0 is also available in grey – this is helpful if you want to avoid having to repaint the blade prior to the tape installation.

Learn more or contact an expert about your wind turbine blade repair challenges.

The 3M lab is here to help you tackle your questions, so your wind farm is operating at 100% AEP.

Contact a specialist like me for support.

About the Author

Paolo Rocca

[enBio=Paolo Rocca is 3M’s renewable energy expert; he works directly with customers and end-users – helping provide solutions to their problems. Paolo is focused on actively driving and developing change within the electrical industry, by testing new solutions to customer problems and adapting current products in new innovative ways. Over the last few years, Paolo has authored eight inventions, several of which are now filed as a patent.],[enJob=Renewable Energy Specialist, Electrical Engineering, 3M Canada],[frBio=Paolo Rocca est l’expert en énergie renouvelable chez 3M. Il travaille directement avec les clients et les utilisateurs finaux en les aidant à trouver des solutions à leurs problèmes. Paolo se concentre à favoriser et à opérer le changement de manière active au sein de l’industrie de l’électricité, en mettant à l’essai de nouvelles solutions pour résoudre les problèmes des clients et en adaptant les produits actuels de manières novatrices. Au cours des dernières années, Paolo a mis au point huit inventions, dont plusieurs sont désormais en cours d’obtention d’un brevet.],[frJob=Spécialiste en énergie renouvelable, génie électrique, 3M Canada]

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