Skip to content

Helicopter De-Icing For Wind Turbines

December 8, 2016

By Paul Homewood


h/t Joe Public





It will come as no great surprise to learn that wind turbines in cold climes have an unfortunate habit of icing up in winter!

As a consequence there is growing demand for helicopters to de-ice them, as the above video shows.


One company involved, Alpine Helicopter, describes their offer:


Airborne de-icing solution for wind turbines!

New research and field tests has made it possible to remove ice and snow from wind turbine blades without breaking the bank!

With a helicopter and hot water, Alpine Helicopter AB has made it their business idea to spray the blades rather than waiting for thaw. Until now, there has been no other alternatives than to wait for the ice to melt if the wind turbine isn’t equipped with a de-icing system. Founder Mats Widgren has developed this cost effective no chemicals solution, using regular water and a helicopter to efficiently remove snow and ice from the wind turbine’s blades.

The solution is easy: a truck equipped with a fuel tank and oil burner – with the capacity to hold 44mwater – heats the water from 7ºC to 65ºC in 6,5 hours. The equipment has been developed in collaboration with Skellefteå Kraft AB and the truck also has a fuel depot for the helicopter. Everything is completed for efficient setup in the field with a tank and sprayer mounted under the helicopter. The hot water is then sprayed onto the the blades in the same way as when de-icing an aircraft.

Electricity producers operating in cold climates have experienced downtime costs while waiting until the ice naturally melts due to a lack of alternatives. De-icing of wind turbines with helicopter is a new and tested technology, which has been exercised on site Uljabuouda in Arjeplog. The tests show very promising results and has the support to further develop the de-icing system between 2014 and 2016 by the Swedish Energy Agency.


 Does not sound very low carbon to me!

  1. December 8, 2016 7:08 pm

    Never mind the “carbon emissions”, feel the subsidies.

  2. Ian Magness permalink
    December 8, 2016 7:25 pm

    Your comment is ignorant Paul – the helicopter, boiler etc emissions will be deemed zero as, err, they will be part of, err sustainable projects. Just like chopping down forests gets a zero rating. Obvious really.

  3. December 8, 2016 7:52 pm

    Not low carbon at all and very expensive to hire the chopper – say £800 min per hour.

  4. December 8, 2016 8:27 pm

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    The energy required for a helicopter to de-ice all the blades on a wind farm must outweigh any supposed saving in CO2 by a factor of 100 or more. Notwithstanding that no wind farm has saved a gram of CO2 due to construction and the necessary spinning reserve.

    “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” – Albert Einstein

  5. December 8, 2016 8:31 pm

    It is interesting how ingenuity can step in and solve real world problems. Wind turbines can be put out of commission during the winter with ice, so solve the problem by using a little human ingenuity.

    I have some large power lines that cross my property. Periodically the power company cleans their right of way of potential hazards (my ever growing trees). This year they employed a helicopter dragging a 900 pound massive chainsaw through the sky to trim back the large branches. Darndest thing I ever saw. But it worked.

  6. December 8, 2016 8:36 pm

    Sustainable subsidies

  7. John F. Hultquist permalink
    December 8, 2016 8:38 pm

    Helicopters have become common for things like inspections** and spraying under power-lines. They are also used for logging — lifting and carrying logs from where the tree lived to a landing where they will be loaded. [**In the USA drones will be used if the ‘sight of the operator’ rule is dropped.]
    It is (anachronistic) ‘ironical’ that the rush to “green” technology has led to so many non-green consequences.

    (I remember this topic being presented (here?) about 2 years ago. Or not!)

  8. Bloke down the pub permalink
    December 8, 2016 8:49 pm

    Interesting prog on BBC4 ‘Dangerous Earth’ about icebergs, showing how icebergs introduce nutrients to the ocean, fertilising it and promoting sea life. Just waiting for the bit about global warming, sigh!

  9. Andrewa permalink
    December 8, 2016 8:53 pm

    Propellers on a windmill ice up like sails have done for thousands of years? Who would have had the foresight to have seen this coming.

  10. Mike Jackson permalink
    December 8, 2016 10:20 pm

    Interesting to see they are using hot water for this “new” but nevertheless “tested” technology. I remember using the same stuff on my windscreen in the winter of 1963. I also remember it didn’t really do the job very well. After a couple of minutes the windscreen froze up again!

  11. December 8, 2016 11:07 pm

    Helicopters aren’t so great in icy conditions either.

    ‘Frosty weather is actually the most dangerous of conditions. This happens when the air temperature is below freezing and the humidity level in the atmosphere is high. This leads to adverse effects on the helicopter including control problems and even crashes.’

  12. December 9, 2016 12:46 am

    Today 3pm Radio 4 was basically a 30 min advert for a Scottish Wind Farm
    But keen eared would have spotted it’s built on a peat bog and many trees were chopped down as well.

  13. Ben Vorlich permalink
    December 9, 2016 8:25 am

    What about The Mpemba effect, as noticed by Mike Jackson in 1963? When at Primary School in the late 1950s early 1960s in the evenings the janitor used to put warm water down on the playground as slides for us children’s next mornings slides. He used warm water because he said it froze quicker and the ice was better. No dissolved air. What H&S would make of it today I don’t know, but as a child it was one of joys of cold winter mornings.

    • nigel permalink
      December 9, 2016 9:07 am


      I do not remember anyone being injured at my school when we did the same.
      If you KNOW you are going to slip you nurture a sense of balance and only hurl yourself at a speed you can handle.

      If you do NOT KNOW you are going to slip, as happened to me twice on winter streets in Canada, you get an injured wrist and sometimes concussion.

  14. December 9, 2016 3:10 pm

    I moved a drilling rig in Ecuador once, with a Chinook helipoter. It was $5000/hr with a 10hr minimum/day! This would be somewhat cheaper, but still at least $2000/hr. Wind energy is quite an investment for tax payers to shoulder. The costs never end, and you get very little power in return!!

  15. Malcolm Bell permalink
    December 9, 2016 4:03 pm


    Yesterday Sir David Attenborough and Prince Albert 2 of Monaco signed a deal with Cambridge University to address with greater viglour the threat to the world by Anthropogenic Global Warming.

    The Prince asserted that the temperature last month in Antactica exceeding the average over 1958 -2012
    by 15 to 20 deg C.

    To this simple man that seems so utterly absurd that it must be impossible! Please tell me they are completely wrong – and call on them to apologise. There must be someone in Cambridge not in thrall to the BBC and its Naturalist Guru?

    • December 9, 2016 4:08 pm

      Was it the Arctic or Antarctic?

    • dearieme permalink
      December 9, 2016 6:12 pm

      Extraordinary how cheap potent academics are.

  16. jean inconneau permalink
    December 10, 2016 1:34 am

    There are good reasons hot water is not used to de-ice aircraft. Can anyone see why?
    Hint: water will freeze to ice before it evaporates.

  17. Malcolm permalink
    December 10, 2016 6:39 am

    Sometime, in the not too distant future, swathes of windmills will be out of service for parts replacements and as they are erected en bloc then output will be a fraction of less. So apart from these enigmatic machines not producing their notional output a proportion of those in being will be producing nothing and on a perpetual basis.

    I coughed up for Paul. He is all we have between us and lunacy. (Ah, moon power. I wonder?).

    “Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!(but not too hard). You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout. Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!”. I did not realise that there was an AGW lobby back then, not until I read Lear.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: