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Introducing the LEProtect Project

Development of a novel Leading Edge PROTECTion system for offshore wind turbine blades

Introducing LEProtect, an SEAI-funded project. Winning €460k under the National Energy Research, Development & Demonstration Funding Programme 2023, the project aims to develop a novel leading edge protection system for offshore wind turbine blades. Ireland is embarking on a journey to become a world leader in offshore wind energy generation, with aims to install 7 GW of offshore wind by 2030, according to the Climate Action Plan 2023. However, challenges relating to operational maintenance are emerging. One significant challenge is erosion prevention and repair in wind turbine blades in the harsh offshore environment. The LEProtect project has been proposed in response to this. The work aims to develop and demonstrate a novel leading edge protection system for wind turbine blades, which prevents leading edge erosion for the design life of the blade, eliminating the need for repair. In order to complete the project, ÉireComposites has teamed up with researchers at the University of Galway to collaborate on developing advanced manufacturing designs and technologies to incorporate the new technology into a wind turbine blade. Test blades, which incorporate the new leading edge protection system, will be manufactured and tested, both in a laboratory setting and in a wind energy installation, to demonstrate the viability of the technology.

Additional support will come from the IEA Wind Task 46 Erosion of Wind Turbine Blades. This group includes materials experts, blade manufacturers, wind energy developers, researchers and academics from around the world, who gather to set policy and research goals in the area of erosion of wind turbine blades, which aligns very well the research activities of LEProtect.

The key objectives of the project are as follows:

  • Perform mechanical testing on the thermoplastic polyurethane material to create a material datasheet.
  • Develop a blade design that integrates the new leading edge protection system.
  • Manufacture a full-scale blade and conduct structural testing to de-risk the design.
  • Demonstrate the performance of the new leading protection system through operational trials.

This project has been supported with financial contribution from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland under the SEAI Research, Development & Demonstration Funding Programme 2023, Grant number 23/RDD/1019.

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