Over 50 per cent of the wind energy converters back online following disruption to satellite communication

Over 50 per cent of the wind turbines affected by a massive disruption of the satellite communication have now been reconnected to remote monitoring and maintenance by ENERCON Service. 677 wind farms are back online, communication continues to be disrupted in 618 wind farms (as of 22 March). Service teams in the Central Europe (CNE) region are currently working around the clock in a large-scale concerted action to rectify the problem, which emerged on 24 February following a cyberattack on the KA-SAT satellite. 

Communication services provided via the satellite went down at almost exactly the same time that Russian troops invaded Ukraine. Around 30,000 satellite terminals used by companies and organisations from various sectors were affected across Europe. Among them are 5,800 ENERCON WECs in central Europe with a total installed power of more than 10 gigawatts. ENERCON has now received confirmation that the disruption was caused by a cyberattack. However, ENERCON and ENERCON customers were not the direct target. The incident is suspected to have happened in connection with the Russian war of aggression, the disruption of the communication to the WECs is collateral damage. 

There is no risk to the WECs and never has been. Grid operators continue to have unrestricted access to the wind energy converters to control their behaviour in the power grid – for example to restrict the feed-in power if necessary for grid stability. 

Since no SCADA monitoring is taking place for the wind energy converters which are offline due to the disruption, operators and owners should report irregularities and faults directly to their Service points of contact and other involved stakeholders or via their operating control.  

In order to restore the communication link, ENERCON Service is replacing the hardware in the wind energy converters damaged in the cyberattack. ENERCON had secured a large quota of SAT modems for its customers to allow it to start the process of replacement quickly and easily. Other wind farms have had their communication alternatively restored via LTE/mobile communication. The remaining wind farms will be dealt with one by one. The majority of the wind energy converters are expected to be online again by Easter. 

A key challenge prevailing at the moment is the backup communication link that is missing from many wind farms, and replaces the original connection in case of a fault. In order to be able to fill this gap for operators and owners in future, ENERCON is currently putting together LTE-based retrofit packages, intended for the affected SAT systems to begin with. The plan is to offer these in the weeks and months to come. ENERCON hopes for a strong response from its customers, whose awareness for the topic has been raised greatly by this one-off incident. ENERCON will actively approach its customers with an offer over the next weeks. 

For future new projects, ENERCON recommends that its customers already consider and implement this technical feature in the plans in principle at this early stage.