Greater blade lengths and higher tip speeds, coupled with a harsh environment, has caused blade leading edge erosion to develop into a significant problem for the offshore wind industry. Current protection systems do not last the lifetime of the turbine and require regular replacement. It is important to understand the characteristics of the offshore environment to model and predict leading edge erosion. The offshore precipitation environment has been characterised using up to date measuring techniques. Heavy and violent rain was rare and is unlikely to be the sole driver of leading edge erosion. The dataset was compared to the most widely used droplet size distribution. It was found that this distribution did not fit the offshore data and that any lifetime predictions made using it are likely to be inaccurate. A general offshore droplet size distribution has been presented that can be used to improve lifetime predictions and reduce lost power production and unexpected turbine downtime.
Herring, R., Dyer, K., Howkins, P., & Ward, C. (2020). Characterisation of the Offshore Precipitation Environment to Help Combat Leading Edge Erosion of Wind Turbine Blades. Manuscript submitted for publication. https://doi.org/10.5194/wes-2020-11