What is leading edge erosion (LEE)?

Leading edge erosion has become a primary concern for many wind farms, and rightly so. Environmental factors such as rain, snow, insects, dust or other abrasive air particulate can cause turbine blades to erode; the main contributors being rain, hail and air born particles. This can cause major performance issues and is increasingly significant for turbine blades with larger swept areas, which operate at faster speeds.

When the outer layer of the turbine blade becomes more damaged over time, the aerodynamics of the blades are compromised. This results in a number of problems for the turbine:

  • Reduction of the turbines annual energy production (AEP) by up to 20% – diminished energy
  • Repairing blade erosion can be costly in both money and time
  • Turbine lifespan will decrease if the blades LE aren’t maintained accordingly

How to prevent leading edge erosion?

When weather conditions are acceptable, you should consider solutions to mitigate the impact of leading edge erosion. These options can be deployed and can prevent potential erosion from developing further, ultimately preventing periods of prolonged downtime and energy losses.

After inspecting and monitoring your wind turbine blades, you need to establish a strategy. There are various options out there depending on whether you want to invest in more expensive, long-lasting solutions such as a soft shell solution or cheaper, ongoing repairs and maintenance. Examples of fixing repairs every time LEE occurs would be using paint or tape.

Benefits of leading edge protection

  • Decreased asset downtime: Issues that have not been identified or been ignored can lead to future extended downtime or catastrophic failure of the blade.
  • If leading edge erosion is detected early enough and the issue is resolved, it can lead to reduced loss of yields. If left untreated, what starts as a minor repair can lead to significant blade repair and consequently a stopped turbine.
  • Increased performance: With inspections, underperformance can be highlighted and remedied, restoring the assets to full performance.

How can Greensolver help?

Greensolver are industry leaders and experts in asset management and inspection services, priding ourselves on providing services to the highest standard. We are able to conduct comprehensive blade inspections, using the latest equipment and technology, to detect LEE and can arrange and manage blade repairs, if required.

Find out more about our external blade inspection services, and leading edge erosion prevention here.