The EchoBolt technology aims to reduce the offshore industry’s maintenance costs by 80%
GE Renewable Energy and the UK’s technology innovation center for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy, Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult are supporting the development of EchoBolt technology which aims to reduce manual work at offshore wind farms.
The EchoBolt technology, which is the brainchild of Stratford-based microbusiness Energy Integrity Services founder Peter Andrews, is expected to reduce the offshore industry’s maintenance costs by 80%.
The technology is designed to help reduce the cost of inspecting and retorquing wind turbine bolts for wind farm operators.
EchoBolt to generate cost savings of £250m annually
According to estimates, the technology will result in maintenance cost savings of £250m for the European wind industry (offshore and onshore) annually.
ORE Catapult operational performance director Chris Hill said: “EchoBolt is set to reduce the need for manual work in a crucial operational area, bringing huge safety and cost benefits.”
Funded by Innovate UK, the project involves developing of existing EchoBolt prototype for deployment and testing at ORE Catapult’s Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine. It will also be tested on one of GE’s operational wind turbines.
GE Offshore Wind engineering and product management general manager Vincent Schellings said: “We look forward to seeing how EchoBolt performs in real-world conditions: digitalising operations is a focus of our own research for equipping the renewables industry of the future.”
Using ultrasonics, the EchoBolt technology tests the tension on the bolts recording sound echoes within the structures, and shows exactly when a bolt requires retightening.
The device also provides the wind farm operators with data required to predict the potential loss of tension on a turbine’s bolts and schedule routine inspections more accurately, thus reducing unnecessary work.
Andrews said: “The first time I visited an offshore wind farm, I witnessed technicians having to work in very confined, hazardous spaces in the foundations.
“I thought there must be a far less labour-intensive (and safer) way of doing the job. That’s when the seed for EchoBolt was sown.
“Working with ORE Catapult has enabled us to obtain Innovate UK funding, access their expertise and put us into contact with GE Renewable Energy.
“We now have the very precious opportunity to test the idea in both simulated and real-world conditions.”