Ever since GE wind turbines started popping up around the world a decade ago, engineers kept adding hardware and upgrading software to make them more productive. Andy Holt, general manager for projects and services at GE Renewable Energy, says that the advent of big data and the secure industrial cloud now allow engineers to take the next step.
New wind farm software and hardware technology from GE called PowerUp will let customers monitor wind farm performance in real time and boost power output by as much as 5 percent per turbine. This can translate to a 20 percent increase in profit. “That’s huge,” says Holt. “PowerUp gives us a bunch of dials and levers that let us tune the different elements of the wind turbine to make it operate at an optimal level.”
These dials and levers use turbine data to manage the drivetrain speed and torque, the pitch of the blades and the yaw of the nacelle. They also monitor aerodynamics and other turbine controls helping the farm produce reliable power.
The software is continuously “tuning” the turbine and locks in the best settings. For example, the speed and the torque of the turbine affect generator voltage and blade noise. The yaw of the nacelle has influence on the energy yield and mechanical loads.
There are 22,000 GE wind turbines installed around the world.
PowerUp was among 14 new Industrial Internet technologies that GE Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt unveiled during yesterday’s Minds and Machines summit in Chicago.
The platform joins other Industrial Internet wind farm technologies like GE’s PulsePOINT. That system monitors the condition of equipment and uses algorithms to detect anomalies like unusual vibrations, hot bearings, and low power production. “The turbines are aware of themselves and check with their neighbors to see if they are underperforming,” Holt says. “If they are, they put in a work order and call us, saying, ‘Hey, I’m making 1.4 megawatts of power and my neighbor is making 1.5. I have a lot of vibration on this bearing. Come fix me!’”
The PowerUp platform uses a suite of performance dials and levers to fine tune a wind turbine’s operation and help enhance its energy production. Through a detailed loads, reliability and performance analysis utilizing historical SCADA data, a turbine will lock in the best settings from an iterative tuning process. Based upon a turbine’s specific wind regime and characteristics, the end result will be a customized PowerUp that seeks to maximize annual energy production.