ScottishPower Renewables has successfully trialled an innovative new turbine blade access platform at its Whitelee Windfarm, the largest onshore windfarm in the UK.
The SQYFlex blade access platform – manufactured by PP Techniq and provided by Geo-Structural Ltd – provides a stable, safe and sheltered workspace for blade technicians to carry out repairs and maintenance.
The flexible platform, which has minimal assembly time, adapts to the shape of the blade, making it easier for blade technicians to complete their works, which are usually only possible using a MEWP (mobile elevating work platform) or rope access.
SQYFlex can also be used at higher wind speeds than MEWPs, increasing operational availability.
At Whitelee, it was used to repair the leading edge of a turbine blade and for the installation of leading-edge blade protection – and its integrated weather protection system meant the works could continue during a spell of heavy rain.
Joe Mitchell, Operations and Maintenance Director for ScottishPower Renewables, said: “While at first glance SQYFlex may look like a very simple solution – essentially creating a shelter on the blade – it really is a very clever piece of machinery that almost hugs the blade to provide the optimum working environment at height.
“Feedback from our blade repair company was overwhelmingly positive and we really saw the benefit of it when our works could keep going – even when the heavens opened and the rain came down. That was a real eye-opener and could make a significant difference when you have hundreds of turbines to look after.
“It’s a great example of the innovation and invention coming through the renewables industry to help ensure we can keep the turbines turning and get as much clean, homegrown green electricity on to the Grid as we can. Huge thanks to PP Techniq and Geo-Structural Ltd for showing us the art of the possible – the SQY really is the limit!”
Scott Smith, Renewables Manager for Geo-Structural Ltd “It was a great privilege for Geo-Structural to showcase the SQYFlex and all the benefits it offers for ScottishPower Renewables. This is the only platform of its kind in the UK and its very first deployment, so there was nowhere better to put it through its paces than Whitelee Windfarm – the UK’s largest onshore windfarm.
“We are all very aware of the changing – and often challenging! – weather conditions at Whitelee, so it really was the perfect test for our SQYFlex. To see the rain heavily coming down while the SQYFlex continued to work and undertake blade repairs gave us all a great sense of achievement. A real team effort from everyone involved.”