Senvion’s swift exit from the industry proved a source of major market disruption. This was particularly the case for Senvion (also known as Repower Systems) turbine customers, who now urgently needed to maintain their turbine operations without OEM support. With few viable options, many wind parks found themselves in a very precarious position, unsure of their next move. As the manufacturer of the main Senvion turbine controller, Bachmann electronic was one solution provider to respond with an access solution. Their comprehensive software was designed to deliver complete access back into the hands of turbine owners, operating on existing turbine hardware and control software. This solution unlocked Senvion turbines, granting wind farm owners the freedom and independence to access their own turbines.
Prior to their insolvency, Senvion provided turbine operators with time-limited passwords, allowing access to local turbines at the HMI level. All SCADA servers were hosted at the Senvion facility in Germany. This scenario led to a complete dependency on Senvion for the most basic turbine operations; a stark contrast to their customers’ preferred operating strategies. Turbine owners were effectively locked in with Senvion. Foreseeably, following the OEM’s insolvency, the situation rapidly deteriorated, and owners instead found themselves locked out of their turbines.
From September 2019, Senvion turbine owners worldwide started to receive notice that services would be discontinued within a matter of weeks. This left very little time to identify and implement a new access strategy. OEM independence only seemed possible with a complete hardware or software retrofit, something most owners hadn’t forecast in their budgets. Alternatively, they could sign with the new OEM in possession of Senvion’s IP, potentially taking on the same restrictive conditions as in the past.
While a complete control software retrofit provides operators with some level of independence, upon closer inspection it can seem less appealing. Replacing existing turbine control software with entirely new control software may require new type certification to guarantee proper functionality and fulfill insurance requirements. This new type certification can cost in excess of $1 million. Furthermore, when existing control software is replaced with brand new, untested software, the cumulative experience and built-in know-how from the original software is effectively erased. This presents a real risk for the continued operation of the turbine.
Of course, Senvion turbine owners were offered a further service contract with the new OEM, replicating Senvion’s original conditions. However, this new contract would essentially land owners and operators back in the same, dependent situation; beholden to the OEM. The fees associated with a service contract could also increase operational costs, making a substantial financial impact throughout the lifetime of a wind farm. None of the options faced by Senvion owners were ideal.
This presented a gap in the market for an independent, cost effective, and comprehensive solution for Senvion turbine access. One such solution was offered by Bachmann electronic, the original manufacturer of Senvion controller systems. Its approach was to develop a software package that would fully utilize the existing hardware and control software, offering unrestricted access to all Senvion on- and offshore turbines (MM, 3.Xm and 6M) and PMUs (grid stations) based on Bachmann controllers for owners and operators. An operator-specific access handler grants continued turbine access, with no need for OEM passwords. The approach is installed and deployed in under 30 minutes per turbine, granting access without new hardware or type certification. User access rights management lies directly in the owners’ hands.
Part of the access solution package includes a new, cutting edge SCADA platform; Wind Power SCADA (WPS). Utilizing the open communication standard IEC 61400-25, WPS provides communication via OPC UA, standardizing nomenclature for mixed-fleet sites and facilitating migration to a common, flexible SCADA platform. By unlocking complete access to all turbine parameters, an additional feature designed to boost energy production can help sites realize significant AEP gains. With the SCADA turbine data hosted locally at each site via localized servers, customers achieve faster data transmission speeds and further independence from the OEM.
“Bachmann’s customer-centric focus led us to deliver a solution combining access, security, and flexibility throughout turbine lifecycles,” says Brian Hill, General Manager of Bachmann North America. “Our aim was to provide the best solution as quickly as possible. Priority one was restoring access to Senvion turbines. We then expanded the service to include all the benefits of a fully-flexible Wind Power SCADA. The potential for significant AEP gains makes the solution even more cost effective, providing a clear ROI for our customers.”
“The team at Bachmann helped us regain access to our site following the OEM’s insolvency,” said Nick Laskovski, Wind Energy Operations Manager at Greenbacker Capital. “Due to Bachmann’s response, we were able to quickly reestablish the connection to our plant and turbines, minimizing the potential for extended downtime. As an owner operator, the independence offered by their solution was key to our decision to move forward. Knowing that the access to our turbines will now be maintained in-house for the duration of our project, added additional value to us based on our operational strategy.”
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