If WINDPOWER 2015 is smaller than last year it’s difficult to tell. Traffic seemed good and the quality of booths attest to the vitality in the wind industry. Here’s what we saw today:
Upwind Solution’s Peter Wells presided over a panel session that dealt with the future of operations. Panelists included Microsoft’s Vijay Narayanan who spoke on machine learning. He initially admitted he knew little of the wind industry but suggested machine learning would be of use because you cannot program everything into code. Presumably, if wind turbines could be a little smarter, they might operate more efficiently or cooperate with other turbines in the area. This might be done by one that would yaw a bit to spare downwind turbines its wake and turbulence.
Ryan Junee from Wearable Intelligence demoed the potential for on-the-spot training by a worker in a oil patch wearing Google Glasses. In a short tale and video, an inexperienced worker was able to open and close several valves controlling high pressure fluid. The sequence was critical and not immediately intuitive but the glasses provided the instructions in a straightforward manner.
And GE’s Andy Holt discussed the company’s recent developments and idea, one of which was the digital twin, a turbine model that indicates how its real twin should be working. Fun fact: GE commissions a wind turbine every 2 hours.
Maxwell Technologies’ Wolfgang Beez discussed further application of the company’s supercapacitors. The most successful one has been replacing the usually lead-acid batteries with a small bank of supercapacitors. Beez says the usual requirement is for the capacitors to hold enough power to drive a blade through three cycles of full pitch. A more recent application is in power storage where the supercaps would team with a battery bank to provide frequency control with frequent power storage and outputs while the battery provides long term power supply.
Siemens announced a new turbine, the SWT2.3-120, a 2.3 MW unit with a 120-m diameter rotor. The turbine is qualified for altitudes to 2,000m and temperatures up to 40°C. The gearbox is a version similar to that used in the company’s 3 MW series, sporting two planetary sections and one helical section. The blades were designed in Boulder, Co. and are said to be aeroelastically tailored (quieter) and will be manufactured in Iowa. Meanwhile, the nacelle will be built in the Siemens’ plant in Kansas. Siemens says this turbine will produce 10% more AEP.
A visit with the people in The Travelers Companies booth (3109) may have been the most entertaining. The company has invested in virtual-reality training for crane operators and their managers. A brief session lets users don a VR headset, a screen that blocks out the trade show and presents a downtown construction site. The participant is then to make decisions as to lift or not to lift a heavy load given a set of operating conditions, such as the grade on which the crane is seated, the wind conditions, and weight of the load. The participant then decides to lift or not lift by looking to the left (green check) or right. Sadly, I miss judged one of four scenarios, and when the crane tipped over in the VR headgear I was wearing, I tipped over with it.