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Recent Trends in Wind Industry

Following a seismic shift in our way of working this year, everyone has been finding new and innovative ways to remain connected. While sometimes this has proved challenging, we understand the importance of engaging with stakeholders across the wind industry in order to recognise trends and pain points, and to use this knowledge to improve our service offering.

We have connected with representatives from across utilities, independent power producers, investors, OEMs and asset management companies, to gather insights on operations and maintenance (O&M) activities and wind industry trends, that look beyond the impact of C-19.

Revenue based availability

With purse-strings tightening, one of the most commonly echoed questions is how should we adapt to this emerging merchant market? For owners and operators, it is no longer enough to generate electricity for productions sake; optimal electricity generation needs to focus on profitability more-so than ever before, particularly as the number of renewables coming online is increasing which in turn decreases the value of electricity.

There is clearly a desire for an additional key performance indicator, enabling owners and operators to make decisions based on revenue data in conjunction with energy production. This would mean exploring the balance between turbines being up in peak wind seasons with turbines being up when electricity prices are highest.

Ageing fleets

We are also entering a phase of maturing wind turbines with some being 10-15 years old approaching their decommissioning phase, with many owners and operators exploring the potential of running these turbines for an additional five years.

Life extension through re-powering upgrades offers one possible solution, however it needs to be weighed up with the cost of installation, associated downtime and realistic sustainability comparisons. Practically speaking, there are also land usage rights which may need to be negotiated and extended at cost. All these factors would need to be balanced against how much revenue the turbines could be expected to generate.

Open data

One observation when discussing the use of data is that people are starting to express a heightened interest in the idea of data and information sharing for a more holistic overview. At ONYX InSight, we have proved that when it comes to monitoring wind farms, combining data streams leads to more valuable information.

Applying this method to the industry at large, and taking some inspiration from other areas, there are some clear benefits to data transparency. Advocates of this in healthcare, for example, report improved accuracy and acceleration of research, strengthening of collaboration, and fostering greater trust. A greater openness to data sharing for wind farm maintenance has the potential to support and inform better decision making.

Overall, conversations seemed indicative of a growing understanding of the value of data when used in the correct way. We cover this in more detail in our most recent whitepaper, which is available to download here.

There is an emerging increase in the level of discernment around choosing the best data for the task at hand, along with a desire to be able to view all data in one place. This was particularly prevalent with reports of owners and operators having a unique software platform and screen per data source. Being able to bring all this into one platform, displayed on a single screen, in the way that our AI Hub can, seems to be a growing priority.

We are noticing a heightened sense of competition, particularly with the growing presence of renewables in the energy sector. This could be in part why we are witnessing a greater curiosity in the benefits of investing in higher quality data solutions. As owners and operators continue to look for ways to get more out of their assets, there are some significant opportunities for predictive analytics to demonstrate the lucrative potential of data, underpinned by engineering excellence.

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