The wind industry has an obsession with availability, as the all-important performance metric. Calculating the percentage of a given period that a wind turbine is available for operation, is only part of the puzzle. A more important question is, is the asset doing what it is supposed to be doing and is the asset doing what is optimal?
The wind industry uses a SCADA data model designed for the broader power industry. It is not optimal for 10’s or 100’s of turbines spread out over large, often complex areas of terrain. Another major challenge of understanding wind farm behaviour is the fluidity of the data. Data are often delayed, relabelled by the owner, service provider or OEM, mismanaged and additional data streams become available, which need to be treated in a sophisticated manner.
These factors make it extremely challenging to truly understand the performance of a wind farm quickly and at scale.
Why look beyond availability
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. There are many reasons a turbine may be underperforming, and it is vital to know and understand the specifics. Wind farm owners must be able to monitor events such as missing data, underperformance, boosted performance, and any other anomalies. Some aspects are out of an owner’s control, though many have controllable elements. For example, analysing turbine data to predict certain types of failures, and repairing a component before a catastrophic failure occurs or correcting turbine parameters by challenging an OEM with an evidence-based approach.
Assessing operational performance has multiple benefits, including identifying gaps where production gains are possible and occasions where performance is impacting the life expectancy of components. There is a wealth of information held within the data, and when extracted and analysed correctly, can provide the ‘whys’ on wind farm performance.
Discovering the ‘whys’ is extremely valuable for the future performance of a wind farm to identify areas for optimisation, develop proactive operations and maintenance strategies, and evaluate the best long-term operational strategy.