"Inspection in Ireland! Beautiful views and a Guinness to end the day," thought Richard and Kazim, our two Asset Managers, as they were on their way to the Cahermurphy wind farm in Ireland. Their task was to inspect three Enercon E92 wind turbines, an annual check to assess the condition of the turbines and ensure that the HSE items (safety items) are approved and in good condition. HSE items include items such as fire extinguishers, the elevator, or ladders.
Day 1: Patiently Waiting
"We started our journey on Wednesday morning at six o'clock. Unfortunately, our flight was delayed by an hour, but we had coffee and woke up calmly." It was a 2.5-hour drive from Dublin Airport to Ennis, so a car was reserved for the Asset Managers. However, the car rental company asked them to show the credit card used for payment. Without that credit card, they couldn't get the car. "Of course, we didn't have the company credit card with us... it's used in the office. We had to go back to the airport to see if we could rent a car there. Fortunately, we managed to arrange a car and continued our journey to Ennis. Once in Ennis, we couldn't find the house number of the accommodation anywhere, so we had no idea which house it was. Since it was already evening, it took another fourtyfive minutes before we reached the right people for the correct house number. In the end, it turned out that we had been standing around the corner from our cottage all that time."
At a quarter to eight in the evening, we could finally take a refreshing shower before the key handover of the wind turbines with the owner. "Luckily, I could end the long day of travel with a delicious Guinness with him," Richard says with a smile. "But we kept it to one drink because the next day we were leaving at 7:30 a.m. for the inspections."
Day 2: Inspections
At 7:30 a.m., they drove to the Cahermurphy wind farm, hoping for a better day after all the setbacks. Inspections begin around and on the outside of the turbines, where they check for greenery, rust spots, and damages. Then they go inside to check the HSE items from bottom to top, review last year's points, and assess the overall condition of the turbines.
At the top is the hub, the round part that connects the tower and the blades. "This is quite exciting to check in these wind turbines. With many turbines, you can step into the hub from the center of the nacelle, but with these, you have to crawl through a small door on the side. To crawl through these doors, you have to stop the blades at a certain position using the wind so that you can secure the position with pins (rotor lock). Otherwise, you might get cut in half." Unfortunately, there was not a hint of wind at turbine two, so after half an hour of trying, they decided to move on to turbine three and come back later.
When they reached turbine three, the keys didn't fit the door. It had been replaced by Enercon, but they hadn't yet adjusted the lock themselves. Fortunately, there were Enercon technicians nearby from whom they could retrieve the key. On the way back with the key, they decided to check the control station. "Last year, I accompanied my colleague for the inspection, and I simply walked into the control station. Probably my colleague had already deactivated the alarm at that time, so this time I didn't even think about the fact that the alarm still needed to be deactivated," Kazim explains.
And there they were, trying to silence the blaring alarm. "I think we'll need a Guinness tonight," Richard jokes.
After resolving the alarm situation, they resumed the inspection at turbine three. "Here, we found that the elevator had been rejected, so we had to climb up 100 meters with a ladder. Our fitness is not bad, but it's still quite a climb, secured with harnesses and helmets," says Richard.
After this adventurous inspection, they returned to turbine one. They carried out the inspection up to the elevator, but suddenly realized that they had left the elevator key at turbine three. "Of course, it couldn't all go smoothly at once," Richard says. "Unfortunately, we had already returned the key for turbine three, and it had been taken back with the technicians." After a lot of coordination, they luckily got the key again and were able to complete the inspections. "We finished the inspections around nine o'clock and had seen all the turbines twice. We were quite tired, so after one drink, we went to sleep," Kazim explains.
Day 3: East, West, Home's Best!
On Friday, it was time for the key handover, and they had breakfast with their local contact. While enjoying their breakfast, they discussed the findings from their inspections. They had some time before they had to return to Dublin, so they decided to visit the Cliffs of Moher, a beautiful natural attraction. "We paid a neat 20 euros to take photos for about 15 minutes," the men joke. What an adventure and what a story. Full of energy, Kazim and Richard move on to the next inspections. Our asset managers can handle anything. "Next year, nothing can go wrong!" Richard and Kazim laugh.