What has been part of the standard repertoire of the inspection body of ENERTRAG Operation in Germany since this year and has been classified as a high-quality process by an independent body will also be offered as a service in France by 2023: Rotor blade inspection including lightning protection system (LPS) measurement by drone (short: drone inspection).

With the market entry in France, the drone inspection comes right in time for operators: every two years LPS continuity measurements on wind turbines are obligatory since 2022*.

Drone inspection: ENERTRAG Operation offers simple 2-in-1 procedure

Together with the Swiss company Sulzer & Schmid Laboratories AG, ENERTRAG Operation has combined rotor blade inspection and LPS measurement in a simple procedure using a drone. While a drone automatically flies along the rotor blades of the wind turbine, two processes are carried out simultaneously: A high-resolution camera takes pictures of the rotor blades and a field strength meter measures a realistic voltage along the blade applied to the lightning protection of the blade root by means of a high-voltage generator. With both methods, it is possible to identify and precisely localize damaged areas on the blade and/or LPS. The procedure is not only faster than the inspection using rope access technology, it is also safer and cheaper while improving quality.

Since autumn 2022, ENERTRAG Operation has also been offering the drone inspection as a license model. The inspection body in France now experiences the benefits of that offer first-hand.

Matthes Schachtner, Head of Technical Services at ENERTRAG Operation:

"Basically, we proceed with the offer of drone inspections by ENERTRAG Exploitation in France in the exact same way as we do with external licensees. The inspectors in France are trained by the experts from Germany and receive all the necessary documents, for example tailor-made work instructions for LPS measurements on different types of turbines."

Schachtner emphasizes the special quality of the service, especially the tailor-made work instructions, which are based on the broad experience of the German inspection body:

"The provision of precise documents is unique and helps licensees to get started right away and not have to test the functionality in every wind turbine individually".

Quality confirmed: Procedure for LPS measurement verified by TÜV NORD

The drone inspection on wind turbines has only been on the market since 2022. Nevertheless, operators can trust the reliability of the procedure: The procedure for measuring the LPS was tested by the independent German testing company TÜV NORD and its quality got confirmed. In addition, a patent on the LPS measurement method is pending.

Until December 2022, ENERTRAG Operation has already carried out more than 120 drone inspections in Germany, thus gaining a wealth of experience within the company. This experience is now being passed on to the French inspection teams.


*LPS continuity checks are mandatory to be carried out every two years according to „Arrêté du 26 août 2011 relatif aux installations de production d'électricité utilisant l'énergie mécanique du vent au sein d'une installation soumise à autorisation au titre de la rubrique 2980 de la législation des installations classées pour la protection de l'environnement", according to the update in Article 9 of December 10, 2021. Last updated on November 21, 2022. Page visited on November 23, 2022: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/loda/id/JORFTEXT000024507365/

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