The estimated market potential for wind farms in cold climates is more than 200 GW, according to Clir Renewables, a renewable energy AI software company. However, cold-weather climates present unique challenges to wind operators and O&M technicians. For example, icing events on wind-turbine blades may lead to increased loads and reduced aerodynamics, increasing the risk of equipment damage and turbine downtime.
Reports show that turbine productivity losses because of icing events can range from a few percentage points to more than 40% throughout the winter season. What’s more is that icing occurrences are typically excluded from warranties or service contracts and the effects are difficult for owners to quantify. SCADA data analysis is generally insufficient at pinpointing exact instances and effects of icing on wind turbines.
Project owners require a reliable way to accurately quantify production losses and make an investment case for icing mitigation systems. But there is an answer.
“Clir has recognized this gap in information and developed a software system that automatically detects icing and quantifies the related losses,” shares Rebecka Klintström, Data Scientist at Clir Renewables. “An algorithm uses a probability analysis to flag deviations from turbine-specific power curves that are based on site-specific climatic conditions and historical icing events in the region.”
According to Klintström, software users are automatically notified of anticipated icing events and related production losses so they can proactively make an informed decision about how to proceed. “The method is based on IEA Task 19’s standardized and widely approved method for ice-loss calculations, which has been further refined within the Clir system,” she says. The International Energy Agency’s Task 19 is the IEA’s most recent recommended practices report for wind-power projects.
Clir’s system will also provide users with recommendations for wind-turbine optimization when a project is experiencing icing, based on the algorithms. Additionally, it evaluates the installed ice detection or mitigation system to ensure effectiveness.
“With all of this information, wind owners have the ability to take action and improve their project’s output,” says Klintström. “One owner saw an increase of almost 5% AEP after a manufacturer control update was implemented following assessment by Clir. While not all sites will see such an increase, it shows that icing is an issue that needs investigation.”