Wind energy is an increasingly important contributor of power within the renewable energy sector. In recent years there have been an increasing number of reports of defective blades contributing towards turbine failure. At present, regular costly inspections are conducted on turbine blades to ensure structural integrity and prevent degradation due to fatigue or impact. Within larger blade designs, there exists a complex composite structure of glass fibre reinforced plastic (GFRP) together with other materials.

Under normal operation conditions, annual maintenance costs for wind turbines are about 4%-5% of the capital investment. Approximately 30%-40% of these costs are inspection related. Nonetheless, annual maintenance costs can exceed in certain cases 10% of the overall value of the wind turbine if unpredicted damage is sustained by the turbine (e.g. unpredicted failure of the wind turbine blade). It should be noted that these costs do not take into account the costs incurred due to loss of production during downtime. As a result, O&M costs are attracting greater attention, as manufacturers attempt to lower these costs significantly by developing new turbine designs that require fewer regular service visits and less turbine downtime.