As the planet moves toward more sustainable energy sources, wind power is a critical component.
FREMONT, CA: Today's wind turbines have made significant and continuous improvements over those first tested in the 1980s and 1990s. People are progressively seeing turbines becoming more cost effective, more reliable, and capable of producing significantly more energy today's turbines are far larger, with a capacity of up to 12MW!
As the technology evolves, innovations are expected to extend the life of wind projects while also lowering their operational costs.
Several key areas of the invention include the following:
- Rotor blades that are longer and lighter some reaching a length of 95 metres
- Blades have curved tips that are optimized for all wind speeds
- Blades that are more resistant to the stresses of high-altitude wind and towers that are taller
- Control systems that optimize performance
- More dependable gearboxes
- Process digitization
At the moment, turbines are not very digital. However, as technology advances in general, the wind sector may learn and apply it to their operations. For instance, thanks to the recent bandwidth improvement from 4G to 5G, offshore wind turbines can now communicate considerably more quickly with geographically distant asset owners.
Additionally, as 'the cloud' becomes a more secure environment for storing vast amounts of data, the wind sector may leverage this to enable turbines to store a greater amount of analytics than ever before. Additional data provides additional insight into the turbine's health. However, this requires a greater level of administration—it is pointless to have in-depth analysis if no one can comprehend it. These increases work opportunities and diversification opportunities for trained technicians. Another method of data interpretation is through the use of intelligent artificial intelligence (AI) systems. The wind sector can leverage this to eliminate some manual administrative tasks from the workforce and replace them with a digital procedure.
Drones are another technological advancement that the wind sector is capitalizing on. Drones provide remote and autonomous photo capture without the need for a pilot; cloud computing then stitches these images together before delivering them to an AI system intended to recognize any faults with the blade, such as cracks. This highly automated method enables technicians to be deployed before a problem gets severe enough to warrant shutting down the turbine.
Digitalization is not limited to wind turbine technology; it spreads throughout the sector, with concepts such as an intelligent smart grid' developing.
Digitalization does not end with wind turbines.
Most people are familiar with the term 'the grid,' which refers to the network of transmission lines, transformers, and substations that transport power from its source, such as a wind farm, to your home. This engineering marvel dates back to the 1890s, and while it has evolved, it must now change further to keep up with society and become digital.
A smart grid is a digital system that permits communication between a utility company and its customers in its simplest form. It comprises a network of computers, automated processes, and emerging technologies that operate in concert to form a responsive grid. For instance, if an emergency occurs, such as a blackout, smart grid technologies can detect and isolate the problem, containing it before it escalates into a widespread blackout.
The smart grid's assumption is a seismic shift in the energy business that will take a decade to accomplish but will reap enormous benefits, such as the ability to forecast demand and organize storage at several levels. It might be used to control the operation of wind turbines in a wind farm, based on the present electricity demand, making energy usage far more efficient and cost-effective.