Give Legacy Wind Turbines a New Life with a Control System Retrofit

by , | May 2, 2024 | Control & Safety Systems, Power Generation, Sustainable Energy | 0 comments

As more and more people and companies around the globe seek out renewable energy solutions, wind turbines have become an increasingly popular investment for energy producers. However, many of the assets these producers acquire are decades old, making them hard to monitor and even harder to control optimally.

In his recent article in North American Clean Energy, Emerson’s Thomas Andersen shared that updating control of wind turbines doesn’t always have to mean replacing them. Control retrofits, Thomas explains, are a great way to bring new life to aging assets.

“When performed properly, retrofits are a fast way to gain full ownership of data and access to control of a turbine for more efficient operation. Moreover, retrofits from organizations with deep power expertise typically deliver fast return on investment.”

These retrofits not only prolong the lifespan of existing equipment, but they also provide more granular control, as new control technologies offer far more options than legacy OEM control systems. These new features can lead to typical increases of 3%-5% in annual production, which typically covers the cost of the replacement within a year.

Better load management

It doesn’t take much misalignment to result in poor performance. Eight degrees of yaw misalignment can mean an annual production decrease of 2%, while simultaneously increasing stress on the turbine’s mechanical system. A retrofit control system can put the control of yaw and pitch into the hands of operators, who can make the necessary adjustments to ensure the turbine operates within its expected load capacity. In the most advanced control systems, logic is built in to help operators determine when adjustments should be made and to ensure they occur.

Improved production

Modern turbine control systems also empower operators to uprate the power of their turbine. For example,

“If a team operates a 1-megawatt (MW) turbine at 1.1MW, they gain an additional 100 kilowatts of power out of their operation. Alternatively, teams can opt to boost the power of their turbines, shifting from sub-rated power to rated power to drive increased production based on operating conditions. With constant access to deep data from the turbine, teams can customize their operations to find the perfect balance between equipment lifespan and peak power generation.”

OEM systems—especially legacy ones—rarely offer this level of granular control. Retrofitting is a great option for teams wanting to regain control of their operations for more customized strategies to increase revenue.

Many benefits to retrofits

Thomas explores a number of other benefits of retrofitting wind turbine control systems in the full article at North American Clean Energy magazine. By reading the article in full, you can learn more about how to get the best ROI on a retrofit, and take a deeper dive into how they work.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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