The increasing importance of leading edge erosion and a review of existing protection solutions

Robbie Herring, Kirsten Dyer, Ffion Martin, Carwyn Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)
600 Downloads (Pure)


The offshore wind industry's pursuit of greater blade lengths and higher tip speeds, as well as a move to new markets with monsoonal climates, has caused leading edge erosion to progress from an issue that only affects a small number of turbines in the most extreme environments to a major problem that affects entire wind farms. Leading edge erosion results in reduced turbine efficiency that requires expensive repairs and tip speeds to be limited to protect blade edges. A review of the existing protection solutions is presented. The production and application of both gelcoats and flexible coatings relies heavily on manual procedures, leaving the coatings vulnerable to defects that can act as initiation points for erosion. Leading edge tapes are manufactured autonomously in a controlled environment and are consequently relatively free of defects. When applied effectively, the tapes possess very good erosion resistance. However, poor application can result in the formation of air pockets and wrinkles that reduce the adhesion of the bond, resulting in the tape disbonding from the blade. Metallic erosion shields have been shown in accelerated rain erosion tests to possess a lifetime greater than that of an offshore wind turbine blade. However, differences in stiffness between the blade and the metallic shield introduces a risk of the shield detaching under loading and as a result, the reliance on the adhesive is high. Integrating a metallic erosion shield into the blade mould would remove an additional manufacturing process and alleviate any aerodynamic concerns caused by a profile step on the leading edge of the blade. A design that can account for the stiffness mismatch between an integrated metallic erosion shield and the blade may then reveal the solution to leading edge erosion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109382
Number of pages13
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Early online date13 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • Coatings
  • Erosion shields
  • Leading edge erosion
  • Tapes
  • Wind energy


Dive into the research topics of 'The increasing importance of leading edge erosion and a review of existing protection solutions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this