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The Journey to Self-managed Fleet Operations in Asia-Pacific

At the 5th Wind Turbine Technical Symposium, we hosted a panel discussion on the topic of The Journey to Self-Managed Operations in the Asia-Pacific where independent power producers (IPPs) and fleet operators discussed their companies’ journeys to self-managed operations.

The panel consisted of:

  1. Bharath Kumar – VP of Wind O&M at Greenko Group
  2. Christian Korte –  Wing Engineering Manager at Meridian Energy
  3. Louise Trewarne –  Asset Services Manager at Acciona Energy

This panel was moderated by our Australian based Business Development Manager for Asia-Pacific, Hiren Limbachiya.

With three radically different journeys and approaches to discuss, Hiren led the session with the intent to create a better understanding of what is important in the journey to self-managed fleet operations.

Watch the full panel discussion recording here >>

Where is your organisation, on the journey to self-managed operations?

Louise Trewarne (Acciona Energy)

Our ongoing challenge is to get the best maintenance fit for our sites and to operate in a cost-effective way.

We have three wind farms with our own wind technology and a joint venture with Vestas. Currently, we have no wind farms under warranty. At two of our wind farms, we employ a core team of Acciona technicians who specialise in corrective work. At our smaller Acciona site, we employ sub-contractors for our corrective work.

We run six-monthly preventive campaigns, operated on all sites and hire sub-contractors so our technicians can focus on the technical work. Retrofits can involve our own technicians or sub-contractors and is dependent on cost.

In our joint venture, we are the assets managers, and we report to the joint-venture board regarding any changes.

In support of all our sites in Australia, we have built an asset services team consisting of engineers: mechanical and electrical. They work very closely with our head office in Spain. Their role is to support the sites through fault finding, maintenance planning and looking at predictive maintenance to get the best reliability of our turbine and take them beyond the 25 years

This year we have installed the ONYX InSight’s ecoCMS in our Acciona fleets in Australia.

Christian Korte (Meridian Energy)

Meridian Energy has seven wind farms, with two in Australia. Five are self-managed, and two are under LTSA. None of them are under warranty any more. We have 300 turbines and a wide range of turbine models from four different manufactures.

About ten years ago, before our warranty ran out on our first wind farm, we instigated a big project to gather all the data and SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) data coming from our wind farms. We took that into a centralised data , which made it easier to do the data analysis.

We retrofitted condition monitoring and vibration monitoring systems, that enabled us to decide whether or not we wanted to do in-house maintenance, and to make sure that we were covered for any major failures.

A few years ago, we decided based on a cost and risk analysis to take our wind farm maintenance in-house. We developed a maintenance team, technicians for the day-to-day and range of engineering support functions. Now, we have a very competent and talented turbine engineering team, a procurement team that takes care of purchasing and logistics, a project management team that takes care of component replacements, a technical writing team for work documentation, and a reliability engineering team that does most of the monitoring of the wind farm data and analysis.

Bharath Kumar (Greenko Group)

We are one of the largest renewable operations in India with a net installed capacity of 6.2 GWdc across 15 states in India.

We started our self-management journey 18 months ago, and we have been successful in managing our assets. We have plans to scale up in the coming years. As part of the journey, we have already built a monitoring team and performance and analysis teams. We have taken a collaborative approach with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer) as we’ve been working with multiple turbine models and multiple OEMs. We’ve built our own spare parts procurement teams and negotiate contracts with service providers.

We’ve organised internal training programs, in partnership with the OEMs, so our people are exposed to the assembly of the equipment and components. This gives  us the platform to build our own expertise.

What are the key drivers of this strategy?

Louise Trewarne (Acciona Energy)

One of our key drivers is turbine availability. This is true for all our sites. We need to achieve good availability, and we can do this through effective fault finding as well as finding solutions to reduce these alarms and reducing the downtime of turbines.

Bharath Kumar (Greenko Group)

We have a large fleet and ultimately, self-reliant operations will drive the overall performance of the assets that have the potential to do more. For any IPP (Independent Power Producer) or assets owner is the quality of the assets will have a bigger role to play in terms of improving reliability, safety and performance.

Christian Korte (Meridian Energy)

Ultimately, it’s driven by the economics of the wind farm. We want to achieve a good NPV (Net Present Value) for the lifetime of the wind farm, and if can do that at a lower cost at the same availability or even better availability then that’s an obvious positive on our financial factors

What are the risks of in-house operations and maintenance strategies? And have you already defined a strategy to balance the risk?

Christian Korte (Meridian Energy)

I’ve got three main risks that we have been looking at all the time. The first one is the SCADA system and turbo control systems, and issues around RP (Return Period). Under grid connection requirements, we are required to always be able to remotely control our wind farms or we have to turn it off. This can obviously result in a significant loss of revenue. So, it’s essential to us that we have high availability of the SCADA system. Unfortunately, at the moment we know there are RP issues on the lower SCADA systems that we can’t overcome, so we do rely on the OEMs to support us with normal software upgrades and also the capability to recover from a major SCADA failure.

The second risk is around spare parts: having access to them and getting them in a reasonable time frame at a reasonable cost. Our procurement team talks to suppliers and component manufacturers all over the world. It’s good to have several sources so you can compare prices.

The third one is around getting capable and competent technicians. When we get our own technicians also have to train them. Initially, we had a training provider from Europe who would train our technicians on a different turbine. Over the years we have built up an in-house training capability, so our incumbent specialists can get our newcomers to a high level of technical competency.

Bharath Kumar (Greenko Group)

When you map the scenarios with the OEM and in the absence of an OEM, you have to bridge the gap by being prepared. This ranges from sourcing of components, training, and software support. The best way to mitigate these risks is to identify the capability gaps in scenarios. You can’t be completely on your own, OEMs can still help with predictive maintenance and major corrections. As you move from a small base, and move cautiously step by step, a good approach is to have risk control over the whole system.

For more insights, watch the full-length panel discussion. Our panelists delve into how their operations have been affected by COVID, how they measure the effectiveness of their strategies, as well as their biggest challenges.

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