A turbine rotor blade inspection and repair specialist, Altitec, has highlighted the need for South Africa to expand its pool of blade repair technicians to support operations and maintenance in the wind sector.
As shown by its 2018 Blade Repair Atlas, newer wind farms, those under five years old, typically require more active monitoring and maintenance. Nearly all of South Africa’s installed wind energy capacity is under five years old.
The development of wind energy in the country has gathered momentum in 2018, since energy minister Jeff Radebe signed 27 agreements with IPPs on behalf of Eskom in April, which included 12 wind energy projects with a capacity of more than 1.3GW.
Looking to the future, the government expects South Africa’s total installed capacity to reach 11.5GW by 2030. Read more: Innovations maximising wind turbine output
New wind energy capacity will drive employment in the country, not only during construction, but also over the longer-term throughout the operational life of the assets.
Maintenance of new wind farms vs old
According to the blade repair atlas, younger wind farms require an average seven repairs per turbine, compared with only 2.2 repairs per turbine for farms older than five years.
Three-quarters of Altitec’s inspections and repairs around the world were carried out on wind farms younger than five years old, while 15% cent of operations were undertaken on wind farms in South Africa.
Altitec segments its repairs in to three distinct types. The report shows that internal works made up 12% of all repairs by type in 2018, external repairs were 31%, with replacement of aerodynamic add-ons making up the 47% of all repairs Altitec carried out in the year.
“With the planned growth in wind farms over the next decade, South Africa will need a local cohort of highly-skilled rotor blade repair technicians to ensure the wind turbine fleet remains in optimal operation,” commented Riccardo Buehler, director at Altitec South Africa.