German wind turbine manufacturer Nordex Group has partnered with aviation firm Lufthansa Aerial Services (LAS) for unmanned aircraft system (UAS)-supported inspection of its wind turbines.

The partnership will see development of applications for the use of drones in the inspection of wind turbines in order to provide benefits in terms of efficiency, quality, safety and innovation for Nordex customers.

Lufthansa Aerial Services, a unit of Lufthansa Consulting, offers the commercial operation of drones and related data management for the inspection, measurement and monitoring of infrastructures.

Lufthansa Consulting managing director Dr Andreas Jahnke said: “The market potential for the commercial use of drones in the wind energy sector is growing rapidly.

“Thanks to our cooperation with a partner as strong as Nordex, we can develop innovative solutions which will meet the needs of the wind industry in the best possible way.

“As well as the close inspection of rotor blades, another area of application is progress monitoring during the construction of new wind parks.”

The collaboration intends to provide Nordex Service customers with the ability to continuously monitor rotor blades using the latest drone technology while eliminating the need for rope teams.

Nordex Group global service head Bo Moerup said: “On the basis of the large quantity of very precise data that LAS will provide us with on the regular inspection flights we will be able to make detailed analyses as well as optimise our turbines and our service.

“This will bring us even closer to our target of a lower cost of energy.”

Nordex said that the drone technology can be used for the regular close-up inspection of rotor blades, which are often exposed to the wind, weather and considerable strains leading to wear from erosion.

As part the collaboration effort, LAS’s services will assist Nordex in developing and implementing timely and specific service and repair instructions.

Nordex said that the drones will also provide data to monitor the ageing of the turbines in order to determine when rotor blades should be inspected to prevent outages.

Image: Nordex, Lufthansa intend to provide drone inspection services for its wind turbines. Photo: courtesy of Nordex SE.