Does the turbine have the right temperature?
September 22th, 2021
This article was originally published in BKW's blog. Proxima Solutions GmbH has the consent to produce the English and Spanish versions and to use the images.
BKW operates 27 wind farms. From Norway to Germany, and from France and Switzerland to Italy, a total of 297 BKW turbines are rotating in the wind. Which one is producing and how much electricity? Is a turbine showing signs of malfunction? And when should maintenance work be carried out? Wind-Log, developed by Proxima Solutions, provides answers to these and many other questions.
Giuseppe Madia displays a map of Europe on a screen showing BKW's entire wind portfolio. The managing director of Proxima Solutions uses the zoom function to navigate to the various wind farms or individual turbines. With a few clicks, he checks their condition. This is made possible by Wind-Log. Proxima Solutions launched the monitoring tool on the market in 2020, since then, has been constantly developing it.
An extremely complex thermometer
Wind-Log provides data of each turbine in real-time. It shows, not only how much electricity it is producing, but also provides a virtual view inside the turbine. There are temperature sensors on various components of a wind turbine - such as the gearbox or the generator. Wind-Log uses this data. "If the turbine is overheating, this is an early sign that something is wrong," explains Giuseppe Madia. Wind-Log compares the data of one turbine with all the others in the same park, so that any anomaly can be quickly identified.
"If the turbine is overheating, this is an early sign that something is wrong."
Giuseppe Madia clicks on turbine five at the Marker wind farm in Norway. In fact, the gearbox is somewhat warmer than other turbines in the park. A look at the time series which Wind-Log records as a matter of routine - gives the all-clear: the temperature fluctuates. "It’s worrying when it only goes up," says Giuseppe Madia. Such problems can be detected at an early stage with Wind-Log. And this is almost worth its weight in gold: "If a small piece breaks off in the gearbox and we detect it in time, it can be repaired in the turbine. The magnitude of the repair costs: around ten thousand euros. If, on the other hand, the damage remains undetected for a while, the entire gearbox will sooner or later break down and will have to be replaced with a crane from the ground. The repair costs can quickly rise to a hundred thousand euros, not to mention the loss in revenue due to the loss of production," says Giuseppe Madia.
The data flows: from trading to Wind-Log and vice-versa
If any component of a turbine needs to be repaired, Wind-Log helps to determine the optimal time to do so. Wind forecasts are stored in the tool - including BKW trading data. Wind-Log combines the forecast data with the guaranteed remuneration or the expected market price. In this way, every planned maintenance receives a price tag in the form of lost potential income. When the time is fixed, this data flows back to BKW. This way, the colleagues on the trading floor know when a certain amount of electricity is not available and can procure it on the market in good time.
Man and technology
Wind-Log processes up to 4 million data records in real-time, runs on 74 servers in the cloud and comprises a total of 3,300 microservices: But it is the interaction between man and technology that gives Wind-Log its full power. It takes humans to correctly interpret the data from the tool. In the long term, Wind-Log should not only be able to predict failures, but also to propose solutions. It also needs people who continue to develop Wind-Log, such as Giuseppe Madia and his team. Wind-Log is not the only monitoring tool on the market, and it is about being faster, cheaper, and better. Proxima Solutions’ team is keeping at it with success: in addition to BKW's wind portfolio, they are already monitoring various third-party plants. Geographically, there are no limits to Wind-Log, so maybe Giuseppe Madia will soon show a map of the world on his screen.
Proxima Solutions has headquarters in Berlin and a branch office in Madrid. It develops tools for monitoring and optimizing production from renewable sources. It combines years of experience in the field with software that uses artificial intelligence.