What can you expect during a modern turbine control retrofit project?

by | Apr 24, 2024 | Control & Safety Systems, Digital Transformation, Power Generation, Sustainable Energy | 0 comments

Whether it is onshore, offshore or newer airborne technology, wind power is playing a key role in the energy transition. With this continued growth in the wind power market, organizations are looking closely at how they can ensure their wind turbines—some of which may be decades old and outfitted with outdated technologies–can operate at peak efficiency.

For numerous reasons—cost, delays due to supply chain shortages and extended outages for installation, among others—complete replacement of turbines is often not an option. What’s the alternative? I’ve seen many turbine owners and operators turn to turbine control retrofits. As I explain in my article in the January/February issue of North American Clean Energy, 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 … while also achieving a fast return on investment (ROI).

Modern turbine retrofit projects are a fast and easy way to drive more value from existing assets. Because ROI is typically delivered in less than a year, teams can quickly deliver operations that exceed expectation, while increasing safety, visibility, and flexibility of operations fleet-wide.”

Despite the advantages, owners and operators often have questions about what they can expect when undertaking a retrofit project. Here are the most-common questions I receive:

What’s typically involved in a wind turbine control retrofit project?

To install, a team opens the turbine control cabinet and removes the old control modules, leaving the legacy connectors in place. Using adapters that connect directly to the legacy connectors, the team installs new control modules with modern logic. The replacement units are plug and play, so neither the cabinet nor its wiring needs to be replaced.

How long does a retrofit project typically take?

Turbine control retrofits cause minimal disruption; using standard kits, most can be completed in one or two days—significantly faster than a replacement.

What performance benefits could I expect?

A control system retrofit puts control back in the hands of operators, giving teams access to logic features for controlling the turbines that typically deliver extended asset lifespans and 3-5 percent more annual production, resulting in payback within a year. These benefits are typically driven by two primary areas: advanced load control and improved annual production.

  • Advanced load control: Pitch misalignment is quite common and reduces production and generating oscillation in the tower and drive train. However, modern turbine control systems available as part of a retrofit empower operators with advanced logic to manage poor performance created by misalignment. For instance, these control systems can automatically adjust pitch and yaw alignment to ensure the tower and drive train is operated within its load capacity.
  • Improved production: Modern retrofit turbine control technologies offer options to improve production across the lifespan of a turbine. For example, operations teams may choose to uprate the power of their turbine after a retrofit. Alternatively, teams can boost the power of their turbines based on operating conditions, shifting from sub-rated power to rated power to drive increased production. 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.

Implementing a wind turbine control retrofit using modern software and technology solutions is a fast and economical way to extend turbine lifespan and increase annual energy production.

 

 

What performance benefits could I expect?

A control system retrofit puts control back in the hands of operators, giving teams access to logic features for controlling the turbines that typically deliver extended asset lifespans and 3-5 percent more annual production, resulting in payback within a year. These benefits are typically driven by two primary areas: advanced load control and improved annual production.

  • Advanced load control: Pitch misalignment is quite common and reduces production and generating oscillation in the tower and drive train. However, modern turbine control systems available as part of a retrofit empower operators with advanced logic to manage poor performance created by misalignment. For instance, these control systems can automatically adjust pitch and yaw alignment to ensure the tower and drive train is operated within its load capacity.
  • Improved production: Modern retrofit turbine control technologies offer options to improve production across the lifespan of a turbine. For example, operations teams may choose to uprate the power of their turbine after a retrofit. Alternatively, teams can boost the power of their turbines based on operating conditions, shifting from sub-rated power to rated power to drive increased production. 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.

To learn more about how wind turbine control retrofits improve production with unparalleled return on investment, read the article in its entirety over at North American Clean Energy magazine. And while you’re here, I’d love to hear how you are integrating wind and other renewables to achieve your decarbonization and sustainability goals. Please feel free to comment below and share your story!

#windpower #automation #software

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