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CMU to build drones to inspect Wigton wind turbines

Published:Sunday | November 11, 2018 | 12:00 AM
The 50-foot wind turbines at Wigton Wind Farm in Rose Hill, South Manchester. Wigton has commissioned Caribbean Maritime University to build a drone that can be used to inspect the turbines.

Wigton Wind Farm Limited is partnering with the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) in utilising geospatial technology to maintain its wind turbines.

The university has been commissioned by the entity to build a drone that can be used to inspect the 50-metre-high wind turbines at its south Manchester facility.

"Instead of sending a team up, they will be using technology to actually carry out turbine blade inspections," explained CMU Associate Vice-President of Engineering and Applied Technology Dr Stephen Rhoden, at a recent JIS Think Tank.

"It can go much more quickly (than a human) and the risks are much less. This is one of the ways in which we are applying research into the field and driving our economic growth," he said.

Dr Rhoden advised that the team from Wigton, which operates a total of 44 wind turbines at the facility, has viewed CMU's 125-kilowatt solar car park and is interested in replicating the model across Kingston and St Andrew. He said that Wigton also looked at one of the university's ideation labs, which consists of the hybrid immersive virtual experience (HIVE) and the advanced mobile platform (AMP) teams.


HIVE team focused


He explained that the HIVE team is focused on utilising computer software architecture and modelling to give persons new virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.

"The AMP research team is advanced in the areas of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned underwater vehicles. The Wigton team was very impressed with the applicability and custom manufacturing of the UAV to suit their specific maintenance needs," Dr Rhoden noted.

He said, "It is great to partner with our friends within the Government of Jamaica, through technology and applied research, because these partnerships will grow our economy and push Vision 2030 to its boundaries".

Wigton Wind Farm Ltd sells electricity to the Jamaica Public Service Company under a power-purchase agreement. The south Manchester facility has a capacity of 62.7 megawatts.

The entity seeks to diversify and develop renewable energy sources through identifying and conducting studies of potential sites for wind and solar energy solutions. The CMU responds to the needs of industry through education and training.