Could you give us a general overview of the Complete Wind Corporation?
Complete Wind Corporation (CWC) has a depth of hands-on knowledge that originates from the manufacturing of wind turbine rotor blades. The CWC team has leveraged that knowledge to make the transition to a provider of rotor blade technical and field services. Being incorporated in Canada and the United States allows CWC to offer consistency in services to owners and operators with cross-border assets. Collectively, CWC has inspected over 6,500 rotor blades ranging in size from 24 meters to more than 50 meters, comprising multiple rotor blade manufacturers and rotor blade designs.
I am the president of CWC and have more than 20 years of experience in the rotor blade industry. My wind career began as a manufacturing engineer with Canada’s first large rotor blade manufacturer. CWC was founded in 2010.
Tell us about the services your company offers the wind industry.
CWC exclusively serves wind farm owners and operators, providing a comprehensive range of rotor blade services with specific focuses on:
• Rotor blade inspections; at factory, incoming at site, end of warranty, and post warranty — all as part of a comprehensive long-term inspection and maintenance program
• Remediation and composite repairs, both on- and off-turbine
• Quality assurance of in-field repairs as a third-party representative for owners and operators
• Audits of rotor blade manufacturing facilities
• Rotor blade damage and failure analysis
• In situ dynamic rotor balancing and vibration analysis
The CWC safety program is reinforced by years of experience both on- and off-turbine and recognizes the respective governing Canadian and American occupational health and safety legislation.
What can people gain from doing business with Complete Wind? What does your company offer that makes it stand apart from your competition?
Owners and operators can use CWC’s knowledge and experience on rotor blades to their benefit to supplement their own engineering and technical groups on an as-needed basis. It allows the owners and operators to bring in a level of expertise it may not have available in-house. CWC does not offer its services to the OEMs in order to avoid conflict of interest as a representative of owners and operators. The ability of the CWC team to draw on its own rotor blade manufacturing experience and to stay current in today’s advancing technologies in rotor blade manufacturing allows the company to serve a unique market.
What steps can be taken with new blades to lower future maintenance costs?
It is recommended that owners and operators become involved at the start of a wind project by performing a manufacturing audit at the factory as the blades are built. Gaining an understanding of the level of quality at the factory will prove beneficial. One way to do that is to follow the factory visit with thorough incoming inspections to fix problems before the rotor is assembled and raised. It is far more economical to repair blades on the ground than on-tower after installation. The incoming inspections establish a baseline for owners and operators to make comparisons on future inspection findings as a part of an ongoing maintenance plan.
Does geographic location have any impact on inspection and maintenance schedules?
Yes, there are many things to consider, including peak wind seasons and if the wind farm sees a high frequency of lightning storms throughout the summer months. Planning inspections around the project’s local climate will allow for the most value. Inspection frequencies can be increased or decreased as data is collected over the life of the wind farm and as the owners and operators gain insight to common defects and rates of propagation. As an example, some owners and operators are using lightning strike data collected around the wind farm to perform targeted inspections following the passing of severe weather. These same owners and operators maintain regular inspection intervals, but the targeted inspections allow for early detection of lightning damage, and effective maintenance planning, should repair priorities need to be reallocated.
What specific elements have the most negative impact on blades?
There are varying levels of quality in the different blade manufacturers, so CWC witnesses a wide range of defects. However, some of the most prominent wear and damage is found in regions that see frequent rain and severe lightning storms or are located near sandy soil. Ice damage is more relevant in colder climates.
With President Obama and the EPA supporting the Clean Power Plan, the U.S. is at a point in its history where wind power could be a major source of energy. Where do you think the wind industry is headed?
Toward improved technology. Having the benefit of being in the industry for more than 20 years, I have been able to watch the industry evolve and grow. As the turbine manufacturers continue to develop larger turbines with higher power output, consideration must be given to replacing older technology onshore through the repowering process. This would follow the European model. Offshore has the potential to support even larger turbine models, but ongoing maintenance will create new challenges for service providers.