Onshore Wind 2.0 - the next generation

6/06/18 | Blog

Our brave new world of wind generation is about one thing: marginal gains.

Whether developers make tweaks to turbines to improve LCOE, play in new service markets to boost revenue, or keep a critical eye on fees levied – it’s a series of incremental changes that will allow the new generation of onshore wind to flourish.

Developers and operators must be SMART – and not just with their KPIs.

As we move to an increasingly dynamic energy system, the sector will need to cleverly implement new technologies to make those marginal gains stack up and maximise the value of their assets.

We’ve already seen exciting developments in this field, which will be put under the spotlight at Scottish Renewables’ Onshore Wind Conference in Glasgow on June 12.

Turbine control systems use artificial intelligence to optimise their outputs – often helping them connect to a constrained network.

Drones have become commonplace for site inspections.

Advanced modelling techniques using big data are helping to optimise sites.

But what might the future have in store as we move beyond even these technologies?

Smarter Grid Solutions’ Senior Consultant Laura Kane, who will be speaking at the conference, suggests using technology to optimise how assets interface with the grid network will be key to the sector’s success.

With an increasingly constrained grid system innovative technologies will be critical to making sure sites can export at the right times – or even get connected to the grid in the first place.

She writes:

“There are many benefits to using real-time control and automation to manage distributed energy resources against local network limits.

“By using smart technologies and flexible grid connections, developers can connect to the network and make a return on investment sooner than when using traditional connections.”

And there are other benefits to being clever with your grid interface too:

“It can be used to increase the visibility of your asset to network operators and software can optimise the export of multi-technology sites, like wind with storage” – all helping operators export that little bit more."

Laura also explains that there are exciting times ahead for wind energy to provide more grid services.

“Most turbines today are capable of providing frequency control and synthetic inertia – something that is increasingly important as the amount of renewable generation increases and our spinning reserve (think coal plant) drops off the system.

“Software solutions can support wind generation – and other renewable technologies – accessing these future markets, such as those which could develop from the DSO transition.”

With National Grid recently announcing that it will consider wind for black start services – it seems that with the right technology, grid services could be a ripe arena for making marginal gains.

The question, though, is will it be enough?

Laura will be speaking in more detail at Scottish Renewables’ Onshore Wind Conference in Glasgow on June 12.

Also speaking at the event are:

Lindsay McQuade, Chief Executive Officer, ScottishPower Renewables
Lucy Whitford, Development Director, RES
Euan McVicar, Head of Transaction Structuring, Green Investment Group
Hugo Batten, Head of GB Renewables, Aurora Energy Research
Lesley McNeil, Head of Onshore Wind Policy, Scottish Government