2022 Sandia Blades Workshop Takeaways

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Posted on November 03

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Sandia Blade Workshop Takeaways

We were happy to attend the Sandia Blade Workshop in October as both speakers and avid learners. Held in Albuquerque’s beautiful, historic Old Town, it was a great opportunity to meet or reconnect with 204 members of the wind power ecosystem: users, providers, academics, government officials and OEMs. 

Ben Hallissy, Technology Manager, Wind Energy Technologies Office, US Department of Energy was in attendance, as well as Sarah Propst, the Cabinet Secretary of the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department of New Mexico. Numerous high-level industrial and academic subject-matter experts were also on hand.

New Mexico’s Commitment

The State of New Mexico has thrown its proverbial hat over the wall and is sincerely trying to reach 100% carbon-free electricity. It’s great to see leadership like this, since New Mexico could serve as a blueprint for other states to move to a more sustainable model. This is especially true because demographic and economic diversity is a challenge New Mexico will have to overcome to achieve their lofty goal. How they do so will no-doubt influence how other states manage the realities of a large-scale shift away from non-renewable energy.

The Catch-22 of Wind Farms

While harnessing the wind is not a new practice, the technology is ever-evolving. Wind farm operators are in the process of creating a set of standards by working with other operators. However, these farms are also businesses, so there is a certain degree of hesitation to share what is essentially proprietary, competitive intelligence with their competitors. Furthermore, blade and material technologies are continuing to advance at a rate that lends an extra layer of difficulty to codifying anything.

Speaking (as we were, several sentences ago) of standards, there is an ongoing discussion about what standards should be used across the industry. Each organization has different priorities and variations of defects, such as those at Guide2Defect.com. Despite the fact that most farms have unique performance, safety and budget criteria, there is a real hunger for standardizing and knowledge sharing.

HUVR in the House

The HUVR team participated in a workshop session (moderated by HUVR advisor Dr. Carsten Westergaard) that focused on how lightning data and asset position can be incorporated into a single process to more quickly understand the proximity and risk of lightning strikes for follow-on activities such as immediate inspection or monitoring. 

We demonstrated how a data feed from providers like Vaisala and AEM can be parsed and compared to turbine GPS coordinates. We also showed how that same time and position data can easily be converted into GeoJSON and visualized in mapping tools such as ArcGIS.

Past predicts future

Ed Stewart, Reliability and Performance Engineering Manager at RWE Renewables shared a fascinating look into how RWE uses their inspection data to mine for insights across their blade models and manufacturers and to predict future problems. Much of this analysis is still being done in spreadsheets and there was interest in finding ways to share models and genericized data.


Wind energy continues to grow in complexity as more and more technologies come into use. But there is also a growing field of expertise that can be leveraged for everyone’s benefit. The Sandia Blade Workshop was a great opportunity to meet folks with different areas of responsibility and perspectives on how the wind industry can make the most of their existing assets and try to leverage new technologies and techniques to breathe additional life and productivity into their operations.

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