GE Renewable Energy unveils hydropower turbine condition assessment solution

ROV inspection
Credit: GE Renewable Energy

GE Renewable Energy has unveiled its new solution to perform underwater hydropower turbine inspection, based on remotely operated vehicles (ROV) equipped with sensors and cameras.

According to a press release, GE’s Hydro Solutions’ underwater robotized turbine inspection solution can inspect hard-to-reach areas of any type of hydropower turbines without dewatering the equipment. It was designed, developed and tested with GE Research Center.

“The hydropower industry is driven by the need for more flexibility and availability,” said Pascal Radue, president and chief executive officer of GE’s Hydro Solutions. “Our customers are looking for new solutions to better manage their plants and respond efficiently to fluctuation in supply and demand. That’s why we strive to keep our customers’ asset downtime as low as possible. This robotic solution will help us to meet these expectations.”

This new condition assessment methodology allows on-demand inspections with comparable results to dry visual inspection, without having the services team enter into a turbine’s confined space. The customized design of the ROV makes it able to inspect between runner blades of a turbine within openings of less than 200 mm. The same defects as conventional visual inspection can be detected: erosion, cavitation, corrosion, impact marks and presence of foreign bodies. Easy deployment, limited personnel requirement, and elimination of non-productive tasks and EHS risks all combine to reduce the overall inspection cost, according to GE Renewable Energy. Experts review the information in real-time to ensure proper inspection of all critical surfaces. Video images are also recorded for further analysis if needed.

“Advances in underwater ROV technology have been tremendous in the past few years,” said Roberta Galli, Hydro Services leader. “As its use is progressively spreading in the hydropower industry, we wanted to accelerate its deployment with our cutting-edge underwater condition assessment solution. Our large assessment portfolio enables us to inspect our customers’ hydropower equipment more quickly and more efficiently and provide faster services recommendations to better serve them.”

The validation process of this solution was performed at five hydropower plants in Canada. Trash racks, intake gates, vertical and horizontal turbines and downstream gates were inspected. Inserting a 360-degree camera between the blades of Francis runners allowed teams to visually inspect the distributor, runner and draft tube.

GE Renewable Energy provides end-to-end solutions for our customers demanding reliable and affordable green power. Combining onshore and offshore wind, blades, hydro, storage, utility-scale solar, and grid solutions as well as hybrid renewables and digital services offerings, GE Renewable Energy has installed more than 400 GW of clean renewable energy.

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