Iberdrola Renovables is the sector’s second largest wind farm operator in the US with 41 wind farms in operation with a wind power combined capacity of nearly 3,900 megawatts (MW).
The new facility is based on the company’s CORE control center in Toledo, which pioneered the technology when it began operations in 2003. In a country seen as key to the company’s growth strategy.
Iberdrola Renovables has started up its Portland Oregon National Control Centre (NCC), the most advanced of its kind in the United States with operational control over around 800,000 inputs from 2,500 wind turbines across the country.
This innovative infrastructure controls all the company’s wind farms and substations across the country throughout the year and in real time. The US is a key market for the company’s growth ambitions. The unit also receives data from the Company’s other wind farms around the world.
This facility will enable the company to optimise operational management and economic efficiency at its wind farms in the US, thereby enhancing the quality of the energy supplies to the grid. This detailed control of the wind power generated by the company in the US will provide greater stability to the country’s grid.
The Portland NCC remotely controls and monitors the company’s wind farm network before storing the information for subsequent analysis. Security is also enhanced as all the facilities connected to the centre are monitored via CCTV.
More than 50 people have worked on developing the project, and 25 highly-qualified professionals with an average age of 30 will be employed at the centre, with an average age of 30, trained mainly in renewable energy, IT and telecommunications.
The new facility is based on Iberdrola Renovables’ cutting-edge CORE in Toledo, which began operations in 2003. Both facilities will be interconnected and controlled in real time.
The NCC operates as follows:
All Iberdrola Renovables wind farms in the US are equipped with a local control and data system which collates the main operating variables from the substations which then connect to the new centre.
The NCC receives all this information which is presented to the operators in an organised and simplified format enabling them to swiftly detect and analyse any breakdowns or stoppages. Using this diagnosis, decisions can then be taken either at the main control centre or at the company’s on-site operation or maintenance on-call service centres which helps limit down times and increases the availability of each facility.
The center runs with a proprietary IT control system, compatible with those of all manufacturers whose turbines operate at Iberdrola wind farms. The Portland CORE meets all security and reliability standards required in the United States.
The US, a key market
Iberdrola Renovables is the second largest renewables operator in the US, where it is present in 23 states. It has installed capacity of 3,877 MW spread over 41 wind farms, with some 850 MW currently under construction.
The Company sees the US as a key growth market largely thanks to the favourable regulatory environment there. The stimulus grants approved by the US government for renewable energy guarantee the company’s growth in this market and allow the reinvestment process to be stepped up. To date the company has received nearly $700 million in grants.
It has also locked in the sale of its output through Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) for most of its wind farms under construction at higher average prices than in previous years. These contracts guarantee returns on its energy facilities in the US.
Iberdrola Renovables main focus in the US is on wind energy and it was the most active in this sector in 2009 according to figures released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), and continued to be so in the first half of 2010. It is also studying investments in other technologies, assessing projects that meet the company’s opportunity, sustainability and profitability criteria.
The Company plans to install 1,000 MW per year in the US in 2011 and 2012, a target that requires active management of its project pipeline.
The company has a workforce of 800 employees in the US –nearly half of its total staff– and has created over 14,200 indirect jobs there since 2006. It has also made some $5,500 million of purchases from US companies over the last three years.
With operations in 23 countries, Iberdrola Renovables is the world leader in its sector by both installed capacity (with over 11,400 MW at 30 June 2010) and output (some 13,000 million kWh in the first half of 2010).