Giants with a brain: smart wind turbines

May. 03, 2021 ---

Embedded Intelligence is the next engine growth for the automotive industry. What if the turbines could also use this information in a more direct way?

Embedded Intelligence is the next engine growth for the automotive industry. Specialists estimate that in less than 10 years, the software dimension will represent 60% of the value of a vehicle, compared to 20% today. What about wind turbines?

AI, big data and deep learning analysts are weaving the next technologic edge. Wind power has been gradually catching up as data / software is becoming an omnipresent and inevitable ally throughout the wind farm life cycles.

Today, all available information is intended for human actors, whether they are developers, maintenance, assets or investment managers. The essence of Data is the insight and intel provided to those people, thus empowered to make smart decisions.

What if a new player could also use this information in a more direct way? Talking about the wind turbine itself!

Wind turbine is the new player: For several years now, turbine design has been focusing on more reliability, but also reaching much bigger size. Real giants are now available, especially offshore, allowing investors to lower the cost of purchase per MWh.

However, these giants are not always best suited to consider all onshore field configurations, or where maintenance costs remain significant in the context of a continuous decline in green energy prices.

So why not strengthen the brains of these giants as well as their muscles?

Enhanced wind turbines operating in a swarm: Existing technological bricks make it possible today to design enhanced turbines with in-built "intelligence". Real time auto-regulation based on information provided by data processing will enable AI to apply optimization decisions.

The turbines will be able to permanently adapt to local conditions or to pre-program maintenance actions by eliminating low added-value human decision steps.

Current technologies even hint at the future, where each smart wind turbine will not only optimize itself as an isolated entity, but as part of a group of machines within one or several farms.

A swarm operating mode where each unit will react according to its own data merged with those of its neighbors. The maximum turbine performance is not necessarily equal to the sum of the maximum of each individual unit.

The potential double digits gains in global performance give a new perspective to the development of wind energy. Tackling wake effect impact on performance is one of the most obvious application cases, but there are many more to be developed.

AI has infused across a wide range of industries: healthcare, finance, HR, transportation, energy… It will deeply impact the wind industry's value chain. Wind power must embrace its data-driven nature faster to improve its value proposition and to keep playing a key role in the energy transition.

At Sereema, we strongly believe that while big muscles are engaging, an enhanced brain is even better: the sooner the better for the wind industry.