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The global wind power industry is growing exponentially. From 456 GW in 2016 to a projected 1,500 GW in 2030, how will the huge number of wind turbines needed to produce this energy be maintained and optimized?
Hamburg & Zamudio, April 03, 2017
For close to four decades, Siemens Wind Power and Gamesa have been harnessing the immense power of nature to provide people around the world with clean electricity. Now we have united our wind businesses to shape the energy landscape of tomorrow and to provide lasting value to our many stakeholders.
The current situation
To fully tap the potential of wind power for the greatest return on investment, every aspect of your wind park needs to be considered. Wind park services are one such aspect offering an abundance of opportunities for lowering the cost of energy.
Wind turbines today are found in increasingly remote locations all over the world, face dramatically different environmental pressures, and will have to endure over 120,000 operating hours over their lifetime. By late 2016, their combined capacity had reached almost 500 GW of energy. And according to forecasts from the Global Wind Energy Council, by 2020 total global wind capacity could supply 17–19% of the world’s electricity needs.
A vital factor in achieving continued growth lies with the wind power services industry. To work optimally in conditions such as low or gale-force winds, onshore or offshore, in remote areas – or to be a number of years old and still perform optimally – often goes beyond the scope of a products’ original design and even the most robust technology. It’s only through wind energy service innovations and technology that climate conditions, technical challenges, turbine wear, and more can be overcome for maximum turbine availability and output.
With an average turbine availability of 96.8% and a resulting energy total of 390,000 TWh over the last decade, Siemens Service Wind Power can attest to just how effective comprehensive operation and maintenance (O&M) and adaptable service features are.
The important role of O&M has been acknowledged across the industry: Danish advisory firm Make Consulting has reported that with the current rate of capacity growth, by 2020 the wind turbine services market will have almost doubled. Annual revenue from wind turbine monitoring and repairs may surge to more than $13 billion in 2020 from $7.1 billion in 2016, the firm says. It additionally projects that 300 GW of capacity will be installed throughout 2020, doubling the current generating capacity and boosting the need for maintenance.
According to data from DEWI, O&M costs constitute a sizeable share of the total annual costs of a wind turbine. For a new turbine, these costs may easily make up 20–25 percent of the total levelized cost per kWh produced over the lifetime of the turbine. As a result, O&M costs are attracting greater attention, since manufacturers attempt to lower these costs significantly by developing new turbine designs that require fewer regular service visits and less turbine downtime.
It is a high-growth and high-value global market with interest along the entire value chain. Today, Siemens services wind turbines across 40 countries and monitors data for 12,000 turbines from the industry’s most advanced remote diagnostics center. Through solutions like the remote diagnostic center, Siemens has reduced the number of site visits significantly over the last year, which directly relates to increased output.
In every step of a wind park’s operational life there are numerous obstacles to overcome to ensure continuous availability and optimized performance. With the maturing of the industry, situational requirements have only become more complex.
Whether it’s site-specific considerations such as the localized environmental conditions facing onshore wind power, or tackling erosion on turbines positioned at sea, there are multiple service concerns to be dealt with throughout a project’s lifecycle. Even before operations begin, legal regulations and compliance and complex logistical requirements are highly mutable conditions that must be navigated.
The expansion of the industry to new markets is positive – but every location comes with its own unique set of challenges. For example, in more remote locations onshore or at offshore sites, performing scheduled services is logistically challenging and requires greater safety precautions. And at those locations, availability of spare parts also becomes a greater concern. Meanwhile, at offshore locations, service vessel availability needs to be considered in addition to the reliability obstacles that these wind parks face.
Ensuring wind energy continues as a viable and reliable renewable energy source requires the very best service and maintenance support over the entire lifecycle of the turbines. We are committed to providing our customers with flexible, value-driven service plans targeted to their specific operational needs. This is complemented by our advanced digital services and our drive to keep optimizing our customers’ assets.
Turning the service approach from reactive to proactive is key to identifying turbine issues as quickly and efficiently as possible before any damage worsens. Service needs are manifold. Challenges also go beyond the parks themselves: As the industry output has increased, the role that wind farms play in supporting and stabilizing the electrical grid has become more important – in fact, as important as the state of the turbines themselves.
And all this has to be done without increasing costs for the customer – who is of course the first and most vital factor to be considered. A growing challenge is the widening diversity of customers – from developers to independent power producers to utilities and investors. Divergent needs in a maturing industry mean that the long-held approach of one-size-fits-all service solutions is simply insufficient.
Self-operating customers with experience across multiple wind projects want services to supplement their internal skill set; entities that combine experience with low risk need to be able to mix and match services as needed; and investors with little operational involvement want full service packages with predictable profitability.
The bottom line is, whoever you are, whatever your needs, and wherever your wind parks are located, your services provider must be able to handle both predictable and unseen challenges with precision and skill.
Investing in service solutions means investing in tomorrow’s wind energy – technological innovations, digitalization and big data, and customizable service solutions that help overcome both current and future challenges.
To navigate the complex obstacles facing the wind service industry today it is necessary to adopt a smart, proactive approach that takes into account your unique needs. To enable this, our team of service wind experts focuses on developing more intelligent and flexible diagnostic, maintenance, and optimization techniques and technologies in the Siemens Service Wind portfolio.
This portfolio offers solutions across the entire lifecycle of your wind project. Quality of service always starts with the wind turbine but is supported by the performance of our wind technicians. More than 100 specialized courses and dedicated training centers available to our technicians and our customers’ technicians allow for custom training and superior capability. The iterative program cycle of training is immediately reinforced by fieldwork, to ensure that technicians are armed with the knowledge, real-world experience, and focus on safety to deliver the professional and effective service that is expected.
With more than three decades of experience in maintenance and operations, Siemens has been able to accumulate not just a vast level of practical know-how, but also an extraordinary degree of digital expertise, to support better turbine performance. One of the big myths about using big data is that it’s all related to software and hardware, but its real value is only revealed when expert insight is added. By integrating Siemens’ real-world experience into innovations, we have achieved new methods to improve wind projects’ profitability.
For instance, in our remote diagnostic centers we have applied data and knowledge to overcome restricted access to more remote locations, without making any O&M compromises. Service visits can be kept to a minimum and issues can even be fixed remotely through services such as our Vibration Diagnostics, which applies big data analysis to catch developing issues before they can shut down the turbine.
When on-site expertise is needed, we have developed other innovations to overcome obstacles. For example, our service operation vessel (SOV), which offers accelerated response and safer working conditions, uses technical innovations based on expert insight from practical experience at sea. Its hydraulic gangway enhances safety at sea by enabling technicians to “walk to work” even at wave heights of 2.5 meters, and is able to stay at sea for weeks at a time for greater availability and quicker reaction. Which means more turbine uptime, and consequently more energy output.
By working directly with customers, Siemens is able to identify specific needs and requirements to find the most technically efficient and economically feasible system solution. In its four categories – Reliability, Reassurance, Optimization, and Performance – the Siemens Service Wind portfolio has solutions to lower energy costs, enhance grid codes, ensure higher compliance with safety and environmental regulations, boost turbine performance and availability, offer 24/7 global turbine monitoring, and much more. So that whatever the unique project situation, Siemens custom-built service packages contribute to a secure return on investment.
It is first and foremost people who are the driving force behind Siemens Service Wind Power. A total of more than 3,600 employees of 57 nationalities from across the globe – that is the heart of our organization. It is through their innovation, partnerships with customers, attention to safety, and excellence that we define our corporate philosophy and cross the boundaries of wind energy’s potential.
Like our service technicians, as a service partner you profit from our ongoing digitization. Thanks to the initiative of Business Improvement Manager Jennifer Dillon, digitization has streamlined workflows. Thanks to her work, Siemens teams document their work, e-mail questions, troubleshoot, and give feedback from wherever they are, quickly and directly via tablets – without losing precious time.
Thomas Bandholz, Resource Pool Lead Heavy Lift, says that at Siemens Wind Power there are always new avenues to explore for even greater achievement. Having worked in the field for many years, he now prepares the next generation of Siemens technicians by applying his practical expertise and experience to their instruction.
Henrik Pedersen and his team monitor more than 12,000 turbines around the world from our remote diagnostic center. They work hard to ensure that most failures don’t happen in the first place, while also improving service planning by translating big data into smart service recommendations.
Andreas Geissen is one of the Environmental Health & Safety officers responsible for ensuring the day-to-day safety of the SOVs that service wind farms. He and the team never fail to respond efficiently, even in the face of new safety challenges.
132 turbines (SWT-2.3, 304 MW)
Service since 2007
15-year long-term service extension in 2014
88 turbines (SWT-2.3, 200 MW)
Service since 2008
14-year service agreement with power-curve upgrade
72 turbines (SWT-4.0, 288 MW)
Service starts in 2016
SOV share with DanTysk
- Offshore Direct Drive turbines
- Offshore Geared turbines
- Over 50 service solutions
- For all IEC classes