Utilities Challenge the Status Quo to Scale Up Wind Power

Two decades ago wind turbines were put up, mainly by green fingered, well intentioned folk with the primary aim of being able to produce enough wind power so that they could become independent from the national gird. The methods undertaken regarding the planning, installation, operation and maintenance of these turbines was secondary, tertiary and in many cases simply not considered.

"This is how the wind energy business has developed and has grown. They treat it more like single individual wind turbines rather than thinking ‘this is a power plant’," says Peter Dalhoff, Managing Director at GL Renewables Consulting & Engineering.

Today an individual wind turbine is able to produce energy in the multi-megawatt capacity, and wind farms and parks can commonly host over two dozen turbines. Offshore wind installations are now being planned and constructed with over 100 turbines as standard in many cases.

Scaling up means that the issues that were glossed over in the early days are now much more pertinent. The investment costs going into wind projects range into the multi millions, and the owners and operators of the biggest wind farms are now large scale utility companies. Utilities can be expected to push to achieve maximum power output from wind farms using integrated management systems similar to those found in the oil and gas industry.

"If you speak with utility companies… it’s obvious that they need asset integrity management, they know it from their day to day power plant business. They might be the first ones to ask for integrated management systems," says Peter Dalhoff.

Peter’s view is that the wind industry could lend a hand from conventional power plant experts:

"If we look at UK Round 3 offshore wind farms, or the German far distant offshore wind farms, they will have around 80 5MW turbines. And that means that management and management systems for these wind farms also need to be as professional as for conventional power plants."

Peter will be sharing his views and his company’s services to the wind energy industry this November 17-18 in Hamburg at the 2nd annual Wind Energy Operations and Maintenance Conference. He’ll be joined by over 25 key operators, industry bodies and leading minds in Europe where they will spend two days discussing the challenges and issues in O&M right now and helping operators to reduce time & cost on their core turbine maintenance and maximise power production with effective data analysis.

Consulting & Engineering – Renewable energy projects

How do you optimise your wind farm? Germanischer Lloyd takes a close look from the pre-development phase through to operations. From strategic consulting to wind resource assessment, due diligence reviews to performance optimisation, Germanischer Lloyd offers its services to project leaders, financing institutions and insurers of renewable energy.

Geomatics and mapping

From the early stages, such as site suitability and pre-feasibility analyses, high-level constraints assessments, mesoscale wind speed mapping and energy-output estimates, to the environmental assessment and permitting stage, Germanischer Lloyd provides the spatial analysis and mapping expertise essential to your project. Our GIS specialists have been supporting meteorologists, engineers and environmental specialists in integrating specific wind-energy-related data with geographic features, existing infrastructure data, and site-specific biophysical and regulatory siting constraints. In addition to providing a central tool to manage, exchange and visualise wind-project-related data, Germanischer Lloyd’s geomatics services also provide indispensable support for consultation with various stakeholders, the general public and regulatory agencies.

Wind resource assessment

Since every project and site has its own unique characteristics, Germanischer Lloyd designs site-specific wind monitoring programmes to obtain highly-accurate observations on both onshore and offshore sites. Optimising these programmes to ensure they adhere to each site’s specific characteristics is especially critical on complex terrain and offshore sites. Germanischer Lloyd develops new and advanced meteorological tools to accurately characterise on-site wind resources both horizontally and vertically, and in relation to past and anticipated wind speed trends. The objective of a well-designed Wind Resource Assessment Programme (WRAP) is to improve the return on investment by balancing the investment made with the certainty in the project’s energy yield.

Project design and energy yield assessment

Germanischer Lloyd understands the importance of optimal wind-farm layouts and accurate energy-yield estimates in order to model the revenue stream, and thus the project’s financials. Our multidisciplinary team of engineers, meteorologists, geomaticians, and environmental specialists collaborate to consider the numerous parameters in turbine micrositing, which include: topography and roughness, wind regimes, noise levels, communication systems, shadow flicker, zoning by-laws and the natural environment and heritage of the sites. Our expertise in complex terrain, forested areas and extreme climate regions remains unparalleled. The result is a realistic layout, maximising energy yield while minimising environmental and social effects.

Permitting and environmental services

Germanischer Lloyd offers a complete range of environmental services including detailed constraints analysis, full environmental assessments, land-use planning, noise propagation and visual effects assessments, effects on communication systems, bird and bat baseline monitoring, archaeology and heritage, as well as public and First Nations consultation.

Independent expert opinion and due diligence reviews

Germanischer Lloyd provides independent expert opinion and due diligence reviews for wind-power project investors, lenders and insurers. The rigorous methodologies meet with the approval of chartered banks, lending institutions and insurance agencies around the world. Our expert team, with its reputation for reliability and accuracy, strives to offer our clients an unsurpassed level of guidance whilst simultaneously equipping them with the tools they need to mitigate investment risks – risks which are always managed and quantifiable. They are well-versed in the review of overall financial pro forma models, contract terms, turbine technology, the construction/operation of wind power projects and the regulations associated with their development.

Asset diagnostics and performance optimisation

Given the competitive nature of the power markets and the importance of the initial investment made, it is essential to maximise the revenue from a wind farm, today and over its lifetime. Efficient asset maintenance and management require a detailed understanding of the site-specific characteristics: the wind resource, the site climatology, the turbine technology and its control systems. In this complex environment, Germanischer Lloyd has been detecting causes of underperformance, designing optimal preventative maintenance strategies, proposing solutions to reduce downtime and ultimately improving the value of your wind farm.