Aerones has demonstrated for what it claims is the “first robot that offers full-service leading edge wind turbine blade maintenance and repair”.
The robot performs maintenance 5x faster than humans, and makes use of various attachments to perform different tasks, including refinishing blades with RELEST coatings from AkzoNobel.
The robot is able to perform maintenance and repair for Level 1-3 Leading Edge Erosion (LEE), proactively addressing erosion in a cost-effective manner and halting progression to Level 4-5 erosion.
The robot was unveiled in Riga, Latvia last week – the world’s first factory demonstration of such a repair robot.
Wind turbine maintenance and repair market was valued at $36.27 billion in 2022, and is expected to grow to $63.82 billion by 2029. Maintenance and repair is slow and costly, as it is usually performed by manual rope access technicians.
The Aerones system improves the efficiency of wind turbine maintenance and repair for up to Level 3 erosion – offering proactive methods to solve erosion before requiring more significant and costly repairs.
Danis Kuze, co-founder of Aerones, says: “Global energy demand in the next 20-30 years will double, and the steepest growth will be in the near future.
“To support the industry’s growth, our goal is to offer a robotized system that can repair wind turbine blades at any moment when it’s necessary.
“We continue to work towards making the robot as resilient as possible to various external conditions, which is why we’ve tested our system in extreme heat, humidity, and wind. Our ultimate goal is to create a product where wind turbines would only have to be stopped for a short time, or not at all, in order to be repaired.”
5x faster and more resilient to wind
The robot is also able to improve the maintenance process, not only because it is able to perform maintenance 3-5x faster than humans.
By making use of robotized systems, Aerones is able to eliminate the need for rope access technicians – a profession that is considered potentially hazardous with a 0.64 per 1,000 injury rate.
The robot is able to work in conditions of wind up to 15 km/s, while technicians are able to work in conditions of up to 9 km/s. Aerones can then increase the safety of maintenance technicians, perform repairs faster, reduce downtime, all while reducing costs.
The modular system ensures that one robot is able to perform multiple tasks – including:
- wind turbine blade surface cleaning
- surface preparation
- leading edge protective tape removal
- primer application
- leading edge filler application
- leading edge protection coating
The coating function comes as a result of a successful collaboration with AkzoNobel – one of the world’s leading producers of wind turbine blade coatings. Aerones was one of three winners of the AkzoNobel Paint the Future global startup challenge, which has now resulted in successful commercialization of the collaboration.
Smart monitoring with a digital twin
Aerones has implemented smart wind turbine modeling and erosion progression modelling by making use of digital twin technology. The system is able to replicate the wind turbine in a digital environment for monitoring and modelling for data-based decision making.
The modular robot is the next generation of Aerones robotized wind turbine maintenance solutions. The previous edition was not modular – this innovation enables the robot to perform additional tasks at a lower price. In the future, the company will be adding leading edge crack repair functionalities.
The Aerones system is used by 30 teams servicing thousands of wind turbines around the world. It has been used in North America, South America, Europe, and will soon be traveling to Australia.
The startup recently announced a $30 million investment round, following a $9 million investment round in the summer of 2022. The startup intends to grow its technical and sales functions, increase the number of robot service teams, and expand into new fast-growing markets.