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RES | 1 Apr 2022

Connecting the wind sector and the digital world



Wind power generation is a very dynamic and changing system. Wind is an energy source that is difficult to predict and constantly changing in both speed and direction.
 
Add to this the fact that wind power generation is demanded to be extremely efficient - as long as there is enough wind, the wind farm must be generating power - and this is when we have to ask ourselves the question: how can we maximise the efficiency of the installation and extend its lifespan, while minimising the resource consumption?
 
Well, one of the keys will be to know, communicate and act on the critical variables of the installation.
 
Technology as such does not generate energy, nor does it guarantee better energy management. However, if the elements of the system are interconnected and can communicate with each other, they are able to send accurate data on the state of the operation and health of the installation, in order to act on the different factors that influence generation. The useful information put at the operator's disposal thanks to the data collected at the site is the crucial tool.
 
Displaying and monitoring the most important variables (tower corrosion, blade deterioration, partial discharges, etc.) allows operations managers to make decisions and take corrective measures in a quick and easy way. In the case of our equipment, the borderline between the generation and the energy evacuation grid, being aware of this data is even more critical for the operation of the installation as a whole. At Ormazabal, our solutions include integrated sensors designed for operation at both the exploitation and maintenance levels. Thanks to this, we can observe the relevant electrical parameters, alarms or electrical events remotely and in real time, all of this feeding the SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) systems using advanced communications protocols (IEC-61850) for greater interoperability.
 
But this is not all. If, in addition to visualising data, we are able to correctly process it, the information we obtain is of greater value to the end user. For example, we can design predictive maintenance plans ad-hoc to the reality of each site, achieving a more effective planning of repair services and reducing unscheduled downtimes. This not only translates into a reduction in the cost of these services, but also into an extension of the lifespan of the assets of the wind farm and a higher performance of it.
 
An intelligent system as described above is a system that can sense and communicate. Such a system is necessary to reduce the LCOE (Levelised Cost Of Energy) and to manage the growing generation of wind power and other renewable energy sources in an orderly and sustained manner over time. All in all, digitisation is essential to meet the challenges of the generation industry based on renewable energies and in particular of the wind industry.


Nestor Ajuria.
Global Renewables Manager