GE Breakthrough in Hydropower Turbine Condition Assessment
GE Renewable Energy has unveiled its new solution to perform underwater hydropower turbine inspection. Based on remote operated vehicles (ROV) equipped with sensors and cameras, 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. Designed, developed and tested with GE Research Center, this solution is the next step in hydropower turbine condition assessment.
This new condition assessment methodology allows on-demand and high-quality 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 is a first in the hydropower condition assessment field as this new solution is 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. 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.
The validation process of this breakthrough solution was performed at five hydropower plants in Canada. Trash racks, intake gates, vertical and horizontal turbines and downstream gates were successfully inspected. Inserting a 360-degree camera between the blades of Francis runners allowed teams to visually inspect the distributor, runner and draft tube.