How to improve the LCOE of wind power

The levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of wind power depends on many factors, among them the performance of the wind turbines. As subsidies and incentives in the wind power sector decline, the performance of assets like wind turbines is key to maximizing owners’ return on investment.

ABB has invested in two companies whose products improve wind turbine performance and operations by accurately measuring wind conditions.

ABB has made a strategic investment in Pentalum Technologies, a company that has developed advanced wind sensing technology for the control and optimization of wind turbines and wind farms.

Pentalum’s innovative LIDAR (light detection and ranging) technology remotely senses the wind vector in front of wind turbines in order to optimally align them to incoming wind flow. Known as SpiDAR®, the technology is also used for wind forecasting and site assessment, and is designed to significantly increase wind farm efficiency at a lower cost per site than existing measurement technologies.

Using an eye-safe laser beam, SpiDAR accurately measures wind speed and direction at heights of up to 300 meters. This portable, easy-to-use measuring unit can be placed on the ground or mounted on the turbine. Designed primarily for site assessment, it considerably reduces analysis time and improves decision-making on whether a site has sufficiently good wind conditions to merit funding. SpiDAR’s ability to generate data on wind conditions at various altitudes – along with its portability and ease of use - makes it an attractive alternative to traditional meteorological masts. SpiDAR has successfully completed more than 2.2 million hours of measurements at hundreds of sites worldwide.

In addition to site assessment, SpiDAR also identifies wakes and turbulence. When integrated with Symphony Plus for Wind, ABB’s dedicated automation system for wind power plants, the solution provides operators with the relevant information and necessary lead time to react correctly to changing weather conditions that could impact wind power plant operations.

Increases turbine efficiency

ABB recently made a second strategic investment in the wind power industry, this time in ROMO Wind, a Swiss-Danish company. ROMO Wind’s iSpin technology monitors and corrects yaw misalignments in wind turbines. It also monitors turbine power curves and potentially damaging wind conditions such as turbulence.

iSpin consists of three specially designed sonic sensors that are strategically located on the turbine spinner. From this position it is possible to accurately measure the free wind speed, all wind flow inclination angles - including yaw misalignment - as well as quantify turbulence intensity. Due to its unique position on the spinner, iSpin measures free wind as accurately as a meteorological measurement mast, but without the huge infrastructure and cost that a mast entails. This enables it to record highly accurate absolute power curves for every single wind turbine.

In an analysis of more than 150 wind turbines, ROMO found that more than half of them showed significant yaw misalignments. These typically cause the turbines to lose 2 percent of their annual energy production. Yaw misalignment has a direct impact on output as it affects the rotor area perpendicular to the wind direction. With just a few weeks of iSpin monitoring, yaw misalignment can be detected and corrected to improve turbine performance. Using a few months of iSpin data, an absolute power curve of the wind turbine can also be determined. Measures can then be taken to correct yaw misalignment and other inefficiencies identified by the data.

The combination of iSpin and Symphony Plus for Wind enables online and historical performance analysis of each wind turbine in a wind park or fleet of parks, thereby enabling owners to draw up efficiency-improvement programs and increase profitability.

ERG Renew tests ROMO Wind technology

ABB has been awarded an order by ERG Renew, the renewable energy arm of the ERG Group and one of Europe’s largest wind power companies, to provide a pilot wind optimization solution based on ROMO Wind technology. ABB will install ROMO Wind’s iSpin technology in two Vestas V90 turbines in two wind farms in Italy. The pilot project will last for four months, after which ABB will provide an efficiency improvement report and recommendations to ERG. iSpin significantly improves insight into local wind conditions and turbine performance by providing highly accurate readings of wind speed, yaw misalignments (static and dynamic), flow inclinations, turbulence intensity, air pressure, nacelle direction, temperature and other crucial variables.

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In Control 01 | 2015

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