Wind Farm Monitoring, Automation, and Optimization

Wind farms and turbines present multiple opportunities for improvements in system visibility, capacity factor, maintenance, automation, and optimization. The geographically dispersed nature of individual wind turbines at a farm presents a number of challenges, which SCADA systems are designed to manage. Although the base SCADA system does its job well, it’s the next level of integrating this system with all the other components and objectives of the wind farm that often leaves much to be desired.

Some of the problems often encountered at a wind farm are:

  • Poor visibility of operating data for multiple turbines
  • Unknown turbine alarm or failure status without specific, manual investigation and review
  • Limited or non-existent root cause analysis (RCA) to understand contributing factors to turbine faults and failures, decreasing capacity factor
  • Tedious procedures for reviewing maintenance records and tendencies of unavailable equipment, further decreasing capacity factor
  • Turbines under-producing relative to the power curve, or over-producing and damaging turbine equipment
  • Sub-optimal vane pitch to reducing power production AND causing additional equipment fatigue
  • Systems that don’t consider the effects of one turbine on those downstream from it, overall decreasing power production potential

Each individual turbine effectively operates and is monitored and controlled as if it’s the only asset in the area and its state is only as it is in the moment. The turbine turns to face the wind and produces all the power it can. If an alarm or fault occurs, the turbine will respond as dictated (often by disengaging) until the alarm or fault is investigated and/or cleared, and will be available again. Why did the turbine fault? How can it be avoided? Is this happening often? What is this doing to the performance of the other turbines and the site as a whole? Can this turbine perform even better? Answering these questions, as well as multiple others, is what Taber’s WindVIS and WindPEAK applications are tailor-made for.

Taber’s WindVIS application is built to integrate with the existing SCADA control system on each turbine, as well as the farm’s maintenance platform, data historian, vibration monitoring, and alarm database. WindVIS pulls together all of these disparate information sources and makes available all this critical information in one intuitive and easy-to-use location. The WindVIS dashboard is fully customizable in layout and structure, as well as the specific information shown and displays used. This means that where one farm might want to highlight monitoring total power production, another can prioritize fault conditions and analysis on their top-level display. By being completely customized, the needs of the client are always placed first and the system is built to be most beneficial to them.

The next step beyond WindVIS is WindPEAK, Taber’s application that works in real-time to ensure each wind turbine operates at PEAK performance. WindPEAK uses artificial intelligence and first-principles modeling together with expert knowledge of site operators and engineers to develop a farm-wide optimization application. The system not only learns from real-time ambient conditions, windspeeds and directions, and individual turbine performance how to maximize turbine output and minimize equipment fatigue, but it extends the closed-loop adjustments made to one turbine to understand how this will affect air flow and impact downstream turbines. Farm operators know that sometimes one upstream turbine running at maximum production can create downstream eddies which severely increase vibrations and overall bearing fatigue and failure on those impacted turbines in their wake. WindPEAK finds that “sweet spot” for live conditions (e.g., windspeed, direction, temperature, humidity, etc.) so that all turbines can provide peak output without sustaining damage or wear-and-tear.

Maximize the potential of your wind farm and reduce O&M costs using Taber International’s WindVIS and WindPEAK applications! Contact us today to discuss your customized needs!