AWEA’s WINDPOWER 2019 wrapped up last week in Houston, with sights set on Denver, Colorado for June of 2020. This year’s event brought the onshore and (soon-to-be) U.S. offshore sectors together, with insightful displays and information on new and updated gear and equipment for safer job sites, technicians, and wind turbines.
We took snapshots of some of the latest products from the event’s show floor last week, and here are a few others worth noting and learning about.
Safer rescue for confined spaces
Pure Safety Group’s MAX Descender unit by Checkmate is for confined space and rescue, available in standard 195 or 395-foot rope, with custom length rope options. What makes the MAX Descender unique is that it can support up to three people, with a maximum combined total weight of 660 lbs (which is virtually unheard of in the industry).
The wheel and rope-grabs for rigging are right and left-hand friendly to ensure ease of use during rescue. Models are also available for automatic hands-free operation and as a power-assisted raise option (a separate power drill is required).
The rescue device is designed to be attached to the anchor point in regular mode of operation or inverted mode, and attached to the user. A rescue pole is also available.
Longer lasting slip rings
Wind-turbine slip rings are used to collect rotor current and send it to the electric grid. To do so effectively, slip rings work in conjunction with carbon brushes, which must resist wear and perform reliably. Morgan Advanced Materials’ bronze and steel slip rings offer an extended brush life and reduced downtime — which has been laboratory tested and validated in the field.
Key slip-ring features include: wider rings with cooling holds for better heat dissipation, larger connector lugs for lower current density, a specialized coating that’s used to reduce brush dust sticking, and a one-year warranty with the option to extend.
A sock for blades
Lift-It Manufacturing’s Blade Socks provide structural integrity, facilitating safe, wind-turbine blade handling and manipulation. The sock material is strong, without seams to rupture, and offers easy-to-use, positive attachment points. The Blade Socks are cost-effective compared to conventional options, with a workload limit of 1,000 lbs.
Fabrication experts, Lift-It also offers numerous fall-protection and safety products for construction, such as harnesses, heavy-lift rope, and more.
For example, the company’s CornerMax Sleeves protect slings from abrasion damage or cutting — based on full, 90-degree corner contact.
Detecting currents & strikes
Phoenix Contact’s Lightning Monitoring System LM-S detects and analyzes the key parameters of lightning surge currents near a wind turbine, ensuring wind operators are informed of strikes or whether checks or maintenance is required due to lightning.
The internal measuring principle of the LM-S is based on the Faraday effect. Polarized light in a specific medium is rotated through a magnetic field over a defined length and measured. The lightning monitoring system detects this change in the light signal and uses this as the basis for the corresponding measured value results.
Based on these values, an evaluation unit determines the lightning characteristic with the typical parameters, such as the maximum lightning current strength, lightning current rise time, charge, and energy.
Flash Technology’s structure lighting ensure compliance and long-term reliability to protect wind-farm assets and meteorological towers. The obstruction lights meet L-864, L-865, and L-810 wind-turbine obstruction light solutions that are ETL-certified for FAA, ICAO, CAR 621, and DGAC compliance.
In addition, the lights now come standard with infrared lights to meet FAA regulations. Flash Technology’s solutions also feature surge protection against 99% of lightning strikes to ensure reliability.
Bird-friendly wind farms
Ensuring the successful co-existence of avian wildlife and wind energy is a top priority in the wind industry. The IdentiFlight Aerial Detection System Automatic allows detection and species determination occur within seconds for birds flying within a one-kilometer hemisphere around an IdentiFlight tower.
The system uses AI and high-precision optical technology and, if an eagle is nearby, an alert is generated to shut down that specific wind turbine. IdentiFlight recently added to its species classification capabilities. Last year, the company installed systems at Avangrid Renewables’ Manzana Wind Power Project in Southern California for data collection and testing.