Digital Technology And The Predix Platform Put More Wallop In Wind Power
September 19, 2016
GE Reports Canada
Over the past 15 years, GE Renewable Energy has invested more than $2 billion in next-generation wind turbine technology. Now it’s upping its game. Through the use of Industrial Internet technologies and advanced analytics, GE Renewable Energy has developed the Digital Wind Farm — a comprehensive hardware and software solution built on the Predix platform. What makes it different from a traditional wind farm? A combination of customizable hardware, advanced software and analytics, “digital twin” applications and site optimization. Put all together and you get a big result — an improvement in wind farm productivity of up to 20%.
Over the past 15 years, GE Renewable Energy has invested more than $2 billion in next-generation wind turbine technology.
The Digital Wind Farm built on the Predix platform yields improvements in wind farm productivity of up to 20%.
Wind already accounts for about 5% of the electricity generation in Canada, but wind can ultimately meet more than one-third of national demand.
The software component of the Digital Wind Farm is built on Predix, GE’s cloud-based platform for Industrial Internet applications.
Efficiency improvements in the Digital Wind Farm allow GE to customize each of the modular 2MW and 3MW turbines. Each one is capable of powering 1,000 homes.
Why Go Digital?
Wind power is the fastest-growing form of renewable energy world wide, with installation rates exceeding all other types of energy. Wind already accounts for about five percent of electricity generation in Canada. The recently released Pan-Canadian Wind Integration Study — conducted by GE’s Energy Consulting business for the Canadian Wind Energy Association — says wind can ultimately meet more than one-third of national demand without compromising grid reliability.
Digital technology can help reach this target. In addition to increased performance, digital industrial technology means the size and remote location of wind farms is no longer an issue. Remote data collection and communication provides real-time troubleshooting and advanced management at farms. It also allows for predictive maintenance for turbines, so that potential issues can be resolved before they lead to downtime.
Meet The Software
The software component of the Digital Wind Farm is built on Predix, GE’s cloud-based platform for Industrial Internet applications. Those applications collect and analyze real-time data that provide wind operators with actionable insights. Operators can also build predictive models, using weather and component data, as well as service reports, allowing them to optimize maintenance, improve reliability and increase annual energy production.
From The Ground Up
Efficiency improvements in the Digital Wind Farm begin before the first turbine pads are poured. They start with a detailed analysis of the wind farm site and its wind characteristics. This allows GE to customize each of the modular 2MW and 3MW turbines — each one capable of powering 1,000 homes — to meet pad-specific conditions with respect to hub height, blade length and generator rating.
Once the wind farm is operating, each turbine has a “digital twin,” a cloud-based software model of itself. The digital twins constantly analyze real-time data to operation, monitoring everything from the torque of the generator to the speed of a turbine’s blade tips. It then provides insights and suggestions for making operations even more efficient, creating a feedback loop that keeps each turbine operating at peak performance.