How can digital twins help wind investors?
We announced the 13 shortlists for our inaugural European Wind Investment Awards in July. In the coming weeks, we're going to look at the companies shortlisted in our Innovation Award category, and how their innovations could shake up wind. This time, we talk to DNV GL’s team leader of renewable energy analytics Francesco Vanni, to find out more about its digital twinning platform.
Two's company: DNV GL says digital twins can help wind farms to run better (Pic source: Pexels)
What is WindGEMINI?
WindGEMINI is a platform that uses data from a range of sources including turbine specifications, performance, wind speeds, and site layouts, to build a digital replica of a wind project.
Vanni said that this gave "actionable engineering insights that would normally require hours of analysis" and they were available at the "click of a button".
He said that this helps wind farm owners to gather useful information on how to optimise the performance of their projects. WindGEMINI currently uses six modules built on advanced algorithms and physics-based simulation models to monitor turbine integrity, performance and life. These are:
- Performance watchdog: DNV GL’s algorithms identify turbine performance outliers, incorrect turbine control settings, and sub-optimal conditions so that these can be corrected to increase the project’s revenue.
- Drivetrain failure prognostics: This module identifies patterns deviations from expected behaviour and raise alerts. This helps to avoid failures, optimise inspections, and reduce downtime.
- Structural integrity monitor: Frequency analysis algorithms detect changes in the frequency of the tower and the rotor, which may indicate rotor imbalance and foundation degradation. Early detection of these issues would prevent additional O&M costs, increases energy capture, and extends turbine life.
- Pattern of production analysis: This module correlates and compares turbine generation spatially with its neighbours and the park average, and temporally between different reference periods. This information can be used to identify performance changes that may arise from control system changes or degradation.
- Turbine life estimator: This module calculates fatigue accumulation at the main structural components, providing an estimate of the remaining life of a turbine and can be used to identify opportunities to extend life or upgrade turbines.
- Long-term production estimator: This module analyses historical performance of the wind farm against its operating budget to quantify the difference between expected and actual generation.
Why is it an innovation?
Wind farm management is increasingly becoming a data-driven activity and leveraging big data has become key to enhance operational efficiencies and drive down costs.
“The challenge here is to actively manage turbine performance and reduce downtime whilst simultaneously decreasing maintenance costs and extending the life of assets beyond their original design life,” he said.
WindGEMINI provides a solution to this by giving wind farm owners access to a platform that processes data automatically and in real time, and generates data driven insights to reduce costs, extend life, maximise performance and energy output.
This puts wind farm owners in control of the operation and maintenance of their onshore and offshore wind assets, enabling them to make informed decisions and prioritise limited resources, improve performance, optimise turbine servicing and inspections, plan repairs or replacements, minimise downtime and lost revenue and, in general, understand the value and the potential of their wind farms.
Why is it on our shortlist?
The platform has already been launched onto the market and is being used on 35 wind farms and 24 different turbine models, by ten different customers in ten countries. Around 3GW of wind farms are currently connected to it, and Vanni said that further commercialisation would be undertaken soon.
As the wind industry matures, there is constant pressure to reduce costs and increase revenues, and our judges have recognised the benefit for wind owners and operators to use platforms and management tools including this one.
DNV GL's platform is also set to help to educate the industry about the benefits of digital twinning more widely.
We will be revealing the winners of our European Wind Investment Awards at a ceremony in London on 31st October. On the same day, A Word About Wind will be discussing the biggest issues facing wind investors at our Financing Wind Europe conference this autumn. For more, click below...