Field demonstration of real-time wind turbine foundation strain monitoring

Rubert, Tim and Perry, Marcus and Fusiek, Grzegorz and McAlorum, Jack and Niewczas, Pawel and Brotherston, Amanda and McCallum, David (2017) Field demonstration of real-time wind turbine foundation strain monitoring. Sensors, 18 (1). 97. ISSN 1424-8220 (

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Onshore wind turbine foundations are generally over-engineered as their internal stress states are challenging to directly monitor during operation. While there are industry drivers to shift towards more economical foundation designs, making this transition safely will require new monitoring techniques, so that the uncertainties around structural health can be reduced. This paper presents the initial results of a real-time strain monitoring campaign for an operating wind turbine foundation. Selected reinforcement bars were instrumented with metal packaged optical fibre strain sensors prior to concrete casting. In this paper, we outline the sensors’ design, characterisation and installation, and present 67 days of operational data. During this time, measured foundation strains did not exceed 95 µe, and showed a strong correlation with both measured tower displacements and the results of a foundation finite element model. The work demonstrates that real-time foundation monitoring is not only achievable, but that it has the potential to help operators and policymakers quantify the conservatism of their existing design codes.