A cloud based, wind-farm management system gives users early warnings of trouble, error codes for comparisons, and information that keeps turbines working longer.
Jonas, Corné, CEO, Greenbyte AB, www.breezesystem.com
Technology development in the wind power industry has been focused on bigger rotors, taller towers, and bigger gearboxes to build higher capacity wind turbines. Large wind farms reach capacities on par with conventional sources of energy. For instance, the offshore London Array is a 650-MW behemoth with an output comparable to a nuclear plant. Such a large installed base of operating turbines makes small efficiency increases substantial in absolute terms. For example, a 3% increase of production from existing wind turbines amounts to 30 TWh, equivalent of three nuclear reactors or $2.2 billion per year in electricity sales.
However, little effort has gone into optimizing existing assets. Looking at the industry structure, that makes sense. Strong manufacturers with sales departments are incentivized to capture market share by making turbine sales, and R&D departments work hard to keep up with competitors by launching bigger turbines.
Owners of wind turbines have traditionally fallen into three categories: small owners, Independent Power Producers (IPPs), and utilities. Small owners have lacked knowledge to work with optimization themselves. IPPs and utilities have developed knowledge but have focused on pushing turbine manufacturers to build bigger machines and lowering the cost of energy. Project-based consultants focus on data mining using raw data and traditional tools such as MS Excel and Matlab. Knowledge sharing has been nearly non-existent.
The market is ready to optimize wind-to-electricity conversion for wind farms. There are only two ways to do so.
- Increased availability
- Improved performance
Breeze is wind-farm management software-as-a-service (SaaS) that lets owners collect data from all types of wind turbines to increase availability and performance. In addition, the software is cloud based to leverage scalability, security, and unlimited data storage. Users can easily opt in to share data and insights. Sharing of data creates interesting Use Cases. Here are a few examples.
For an early warning
In Breeze, turbine owners can be notified of outlying oil temperatures from their turbines normalized with ambient conditions, and with turbine load compared to other turbines.
The benefit is benchmarking, comparing observations to a large normalized dataset can give early warnings that serve as basis for proactive maintenance and decreased downtime. In essence a small owner or IPP can have as much actionable information at hand as a multinational utility with thousands of turbines.
For an error code comparison
Identify “bad actor” turbines that experience a specific error code more than other turbines. This could be an indicator that explains low performance or leads to failure.
The benefit is that outliers can be identified and proactive maintenance performed resulting in decreased downtime.
For lifetime extensions
Use machine learning to analyze potential failure based on signals from turbines or from Condition Monitoring Systems.
The benefit is longer life. Studies have shown that owners with turbines that exceed lifetime by five years earn as much money in the last five years as in the first twenty years. Extending and calculating expected lifetime of a wind power portfolio will increase asset value.
These are just a few examples. It will be more interesting to see what applications the wind-power community comes up with. Having this type of benchmarking data is arguably the only way to make decisions on how to prioritize investments in service regimes and performance optimization.
Wind-farm owners are not in a zero-sum game between each other. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to collaborate on increasing the conversion of wind to electricity.
Breeze is more than software. It is a wind-specific platform for users to better understand asset performance, increase output and central data repository with exciting applications for benchmarking across owners and geography. We look forward to see how users of Breeze start to leverage data for higher availability and better performance.
Filed Under: News, O&M