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Lift me up: fixing a wind turbine blade

See the New Orleans skyline from Blade Platforms 235 foot lift at WINPOWER 2016.
Lift me up: fixing a wind turbine blade

As wind turbines get taller and taller, allowing them to access stronger winds in more locations, I’ve found myself wondering how technicians reach blades when repairs or inspections are needed. You can climb to the top of a turbine, but how do you get to the tip of a blade?

I recently found my answer at AWEA’s annual Wind Project O&M Safety conference in San Diego. Companies like Blade Platforms provide giants lifts that carry wind techs high into the air, where they can perform necessary maintenance.

San D Pic 1

Blade Platform’s 175 foot model at AWEA’s Wind Project O&M Safety conference.

Blade Platforms has lifts that reach 175 feet, 235 feet and 338 feet high. I had the opportunity to take a ride on the 175 footer, catching some great views of a San Diego sunset along the way. Like most of the jobs wind techs must perform, I quickly learned those afraid of heights should probably seek other forms of employment.

Vlad Sidoren, Vice President of Operations at Blade, told me the biggest advantages of these machines are speed and safety. Technicians can be lifted up in a matter of minutes, eliminating the need for lengthy rope climbs while minimizing the amount of time a turbine needs to be shut down, and therefore not generating energy.

54m and 103m side by side

Courtesy Blade Platforms.

That’s a huge money-saver, and a quick, efficient way to make repairs and get the turbine spinning again as soon as possible.

 

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Greg is AWEA's Deputy Director of External Communications. He is the head editor and writer for Into the Wind, and oversees AWEA's online content and opinion writing. Greg holds a Master's degree in Global Environmental Policy from American University's School of International Service. He also holds a Bachelor's degree in International Relations and Journalism from Lehigh University.

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