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The Power of Big Data

Big data insights are driving the wind industry into a new era of power

The future of the wind industry will not be business as usual. How are big data insights powering a new era of wind power and transforming the entire digital enterprise, accelerating innovation, and harnessing new opportunities?

 

Big Data, Big Ideas

The era of big data is here

One zettabyte – that’s 1x1021 – is 50 percent more than all the grains of sand on all of Earth’s beaches. And by the year 2020, the volume of digital data stored is expected to surpass 40 zettabytes, an astronomical amount of information with equally momentous potential. Yet, big data is not new to the wind industry. The sector granted connectivity to turbines over a decade ago, with some companies installing sensors as far back as two decades ago. From energy outputs to weather conditions, these sensors have recorded nearly every factor of operation. Now, the question becomes how to translate the mountains of amassed data into meaningful insight – a transition that will accelerate renewable energy innovation. 

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Harnessing powerful insight today – generating smarter wind power for tomorrow

A pioneer of wind energy for over 30 years, Siemens was the first company in the world to install data sensors in its offshore and onshore wind turbines as standard procedure. Today, Siemens maintains the industry’s largest amount of historical data – a database that grows daily with data collection from over 10,000 turbines worldwide. Inside each turbine, more than 300 sensors continuously transmit over 200 gigabytes of data per day to Siemens’ state-of-the-art remote diagnostic center in Brande, Denmark. Here, advanced analytics and around-the-clock human monitoring convert this raw data into valuable insights.

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Big data for bigger outcomes

Whereas other companies focus on a purely IT-approach, Siemens uses the strength of its personnel and OEM experience to not just “see” what is happening, but understand why it is happening. This enables Siemens to predict and prevent unscheduled downtime, transition wind farms to condition-based monitoring, and substantially extend the lifecycle of each turbine. By unlocking big data insights, Siemens drives even bigger outcomes, such as new applications and solutions that enhance wind turbine technology and improved decision-making for revolutionary business models that capitalize on unforeseen ventures.

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Optimizing Operations

Expanded digital enterprise

The key to optimizing wind power lies in the future – literally speaking. As turbine sensors continuously transmit data to Siemens Diagnostic Center, a digital model uses these values to forecast the condition of the physical asset. These digital models examine weather, component information, service reports and performance of similar models in the Siemens global fleet to determine exactly when and how a turbine should be serviced, days, weeks, months, even years in advance. This predictive capability reduces unplanned maintenance and downtime, adding weeks of profitable production.  

In the future, a wind farm’s success may hinge on how skillfully its digital model has been designed, how successfully operational data can be fed into it, and how well the resulting data can forecast its future. At the Diagnostic Center, 130 analytic experts perform more than 34,000 data analyses per year. Vibration diagnostics detect irregularities indicative of potential fast- or slow-developing damage, and over 99 percent of all drive train damages are accurately predicted. The advantage is in the savings and the planning: new parts can be ordered in advance and service can be postponed until the low-wind season.

 

When the technician visits the site, Siemens Monitoring Operations and Registration System (MORS) provides a report outlining the issue and data-driven solutions. For every turbine event that occurs, whether reactive or proactive, a diagnostic MORS case is recorded – a database of over two million cases. Each case provides advice on remote immediate handling of the turbine by analyzing data from previous cases. With a database this diverse, Siemens can remotely resolve 85% of all alarms received within 10 minutes. 

Digital Solutions

Performance boosting applications

Big data in the wind industry introduces an opportunity to boost performance through advanced technology. As the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Siemens uses operational sensor data to create solutions that respond to specific turbine and customer needs. In fact, 80% of all Siemens’ data-driven applications standalone, enabling customers to generate more energy from the same infrastructure. 

Siemens Power Curve Upgrade (PCU) is a three-part package that improves a turbine’s ability to utilize the wind by enhancing the blade surface. The High Wind Ride Through (HWRT) functionality stabilizes energy output under extreme wind conditions. When a certain threshold is met, the system automatically moderates production, keeping the turbine running instead of shutting down. Similarly, Siemens Operation With Ice (OWI) solution performs remote adjustments of blade pitch and speed to maintain steady operations in some of the harshest climates. Data-driven upgrades optimize assets for the lifecycle of the project. 

Dynamic Business Models

Revolutionary business models

Siemens’ data-driven approach to maximizing turbine efficiency and availability enables farms to use big data to their advantage. This not only unlocks greater production at lower lifecycles, it opens the door to new opportunities for growth and competitive sustainability. Data-driven businesses have an output and productivity that is five to six percent higher than similar organizations who are not utilizing data-driven processes. In the wind industry, these boosts could mean the difference of millions in recovered revenue. 

Siemens is helping wind energy companies develop business models specifically designed to create additional value by extracting, refining and ultimately capitalizing on data. Through condition-based maintenance, more efficient resource deployment, and improved fleet management, Siemens helps customers bring new value to their wind farms. The new business models are moving away from pay-as-you-go, and instead, the future of wind energy will be characterized by no scheduled visits, remote diagnostics, and flexible solutions. In today’s interconnected world, big data empowers wind energy companies to produce secure and viable energy decades into the future. 

Digitally enhancing wind turbine service

0

Wind turbines

1 GWh/a

Annual power

0 %

Proactive detection of gear-tooth cracks

Data-driven wind turbine work flows

0 TB

of situational data

2 Million

MORS cases

0 %

of alarms can be resolved remotely

Customer Stories

References

At Siemens, we work around the clock and across the globe to transform how renewable energy is produced. From the Huay Bong Wind Farm in Thailand to the sprawling wind farms of the Great Plains, learn how Siemens is applying big data insights for real world outcomes. 

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