Baffles and Lidar aren’t all Greek to us

21/01/16 | Blog

Making marginal gains in existing wind turbine performance can significantly increase the amount of power produced. With an ageing fleet and huge pressure to slash LCOE, a packed Scottish Renewables event on January 20 heard how the industry can safely sweat its assets.

Senior Policy Manager Lindsay Roberts harks back to Ancient Greece in our latest blog.

It’s almost 2,000 years since Stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote

"Know, first, who you are, then adorn yourself accordingly”.

That sentiment couldn’t be more apt for onshore wind O&M in 2016, where early-stage ‘leaps and bounds’ development is now giving way to marginal-gain tweaks.
A Scottish Renewables morning event in Glasgow yesterday, sponsored by Natural Power, looked at optimising the value of onshore wind assets, and it was Epictetus’ talk of adornments which brought the quote to mind.

Siemens’ Brian McKinnon told a packed University of Strathclyde seminar room that fitting aerodynamic fins and baffles to existing wind turbine blades can increase power production by up to 1.5% - adornments not for fashion, but with a measureable purpose.

The company’s Power Curve Upgrade – three tailor made aerodynamic components and a software update – is just one way to boost the lifetime revenue and value of onshore turbines.

Scott Wylie of ZephIR Lidar told how advanced wind monitoring solutions are bringing the age of the met mast to an end, while SgurrEnergy’s Alan Mortimer’s images of Lidar measurements of turbine wakes showed clearly the effects of turbulence on down-wind machines.

Back to ancient Greece, and Plato’s adage “The unexamined life is not worth living” also held true for speakers at yesterday’s event.

Fraser Morris of Romax advocated constant evaluation of individual turbine performance, with a focus on vibration analysis followed up, crucially, by physical inspection of components which show signs of damage. This approach, in the longer term, allows asset owners to approach warranty negotiations with OEMs armed with the data needed to argue their corner.

O&M means keeping looking at what we do, then using that learning to do it better.
This constant search for data with which to improve the onshore wind sector, and the intelligent, managed application of that data, has the potential to increase the value of the sector’s assets and help offset the effects of changes to the way the electricity it generates is sold.