South Africa wind will need to invest in blade repair capacity


Altitec, a leading turbine rotor blade inspection and repair specialist, recently highlighted the need for South Africa to expand its pool of blade repair technicians to support operations and maintenance in the sector.

As shown by Altitec’s 2018 Blade Repair Atlas, published in October, 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 South Africa has gathered momentum in 2018 since Energy Minister Jeff Radebe signed 27 agreements with independent power producers on behalf of Eskom in April, which included 12 wind energy projects with a capacity of more than 1.3 GW. Looking to the future, the government expects South Africa’s total installed capacity to reach 11.5 GW by 2030.

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. Altitec’s Blade Atlas, which breaks down the activity of their rotor blade technicians on wind farms worldwide, 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 percent 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 percent of all repairs by type in 2018, external repairs were 31 percent, with replacement of aerodynamic add-ons making up the 47 percent 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,” said Riccardo Buehler, director of Altitec South Africa. “The Altitec Academy in Cape Town provides local training built on global experience to guarantee technicians have the skills to inspect and record damage to blades, and identify and conduct the necessary repairs.”

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