Leading edge erosion has serious consequences

Complex mechanisms come into play when a wind turbine blade is exposed to rain, hail, dust particles, UV radiation and dramatic fluctuations in temperature.

After an incubation period of just a few years (depending on the weather conditions at the site), the mechanical and chemical impact on the blade will become apparent as the coating on the leading edge starts to become porous. This marks the start of an ongoing breakdown of the coating, which, over the following years, develops into a chain reaction with serious consequences.

  1. The aerodynamic properties of the blade diminish
  2. The turbine output (AEP) decreases
  3. And the blades have to be repaired – or, in the worst case, replaced

Both the drop-off in energy output and the need for structural repairs to – or physical replacement of – the blades, with the associated downtime and service costs, will translate into a major impact on the owner’s LCoE (Levelized Cost of Energy) at most wind farms. And then there is the issue of the warranty. Does the damage give grounds for complaint on account of a structural defect, or is it operational wear and tear not covered by the warranty?

In any case, WTG suppliers, blade manufacturers, operators, financial players and insurance companies all have an evident interest in limiting – and, ideally, eliminating – leading edge erosion.

Leading edge protection tests

At Polytech’s DANAK-accredited test center in Denmark, we perform independent third-party tests on all types of leading edge protection (LEP): from coatings to tape, polymer shells and different alloys.

The tests are designed to establish the ability of the material to protect the leading edge against erosion by simulating some of the weather conditions the blade will be exposed to at a given site.

You can find out more about the two types of test here:
ASTM G73-10

Contact us for additional information about erosion damage and independent third-party tests of LEP solutions.




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