The long-term success of offshore wind is being put at risk by restrictions on access to wind-turbine performance data that prevent operators from reducing operations and maintenance costs by up to 30%, according to ONYX InSight, a provider of AI driven predictive maintenance services.
Better access to turbine data lets operators reduce their operational costs and generate insights and innovations that will drive competition in the sector and make long-term goals.
To deliver on offshore wind targets in the UK and U.S., the industry requires cost reductions across projects. Too often it is assumed that savings and cost reductions will naturally follow from building larger turbines. However, increased complexity of the 10-MW-plus turbines will require more sophisticated operations and maintenance programs involving advanced analysis of turbine condition data to forecast repair needs.
Without a more predictive approach, operational expenditure will potentially increase, negating the benefit of larger turbines and leaving the sector reliant on subsidies.
“As offshore wind farms grow in size and install more ultra-scale wind turbines, owners cannot expect the simple formula of bigger is better to optimize their profitability, they must constantly mine the data from their turbines to improve performance,” said Bruce Hall, CEO of ONYX InSight. “To do this, they require more access to their data to forecast and plan maintenance, repairs and replacements, and reduce the cost of these programs.”
Large-scale offshore wind farms of the future will feature turbines with tip heights reaching past 300m and individual capacities over 10-MW and often three times more than current rated capacities. Under these circumstances, the penalty for having a turbine out of commission will double or triple for owners and operators in terms of revenue loss caused by downtime. With average turbine sizes also increasing for onshore wind energy, the risk to revenue is relevant across the industry. With greater power will come a greater responsibility to maximize the uptime of turbines by carefully managing their performance.
“We see a significant role for freer data access in helping operators continuously drive down the cost of wind energy,” said Hall. “In recent years, the industry has been gathering ever greater amounts of data, and greater processing power has allowed the industry to mine rich data steams faster and more accurately. Combined with more advanced analytics this has enabled us to recognize patterns and gain better insights into turbine performance. However, restricted data access stops us from gaining these insights – and realizing their economic benefits.”
Full access to performance data is essential in helping owners cut the levelized cost of wind energy and allowing it to compete better with other energy sources. Sophisticated predictive maintenance programs can be built using full data access and advanced digital technologies to reduce operational expenditure and reduce the cost of energy.
“Beyond project returns, better access to data will allow owners and operators to drive innovation and increase the competitiveness of offshore wind over the next decade. To help it achieve the goals set by the UK government the industry can find no better catalyst than the exploitation of better data on turbine performance.” Operators using advanced digital technology to manage their turbine fleets will be more resilient in the competitive, merchant-based wind energy market of the future.