Extracting maximum information from routine SCADA data

In any business, it is vitally important to most effectively exploit available resources to achieve one's objectives.

In the context of wind turbine performance optimisation, information, and the expertise to interpret it are two such key resources.

The greatest value can be extracted from the expertise deployed to address performance optimisation issues if the maximum performance information is made available in a way that facilitates its interpretation, says Peter Clive, technical development officer, SGURR Energy Ltd.

On analysis techniques for extracting the maximum information from routine SCADA data, Clive, who is scheduled to speak during windenergyupdate.com's Wind Energy Performance Optimisation Summit (to be held on 11th - 12th February 2009 in Hamburg, Germany) said the key consideration to remember is that the analysis techniques that can be used to achieve this represent a cost saving and not an additional expense.

"These techniques provide our expert analysts, who have decades of experience reviewing tens of thousands of megawatts of capacity, with wind turbine performance metrics which quickly supply them with the information they need to evaluate specific turbine performance in detail."

Without these analysis techniques, answering questions on performance would be significantly more time-consuming.

"Indeed the lack of adequate analysis techniques for extracting performance information from routine SCADA data in a manner that facilitates rapid interpretation has hitherto been a factor inhibiting the development of performance optimisation. These techniques are essential to deliver value and make performance optimisation rigorously cost effective. Experience and expertise guide the investigation of performance, and appropriate analysis techniques light the way," said Clive.

Data visualisation

In general, data visualisation is the graphical representation of data in a way that facilitates its interpretation. It is a ubiquitous feature of modern society, where information has to be communicated and understood rapidly, using various methods from simple histograms to complex schematics.

According to Clive, routine wind farm operational SCADA output initially presents a large unwieldy dataset which represents a great deal of highly valuable information, but which also threatens to occupy excessive resource in its processing.

"Automated analysis can reduce the data and produce meaningful and highly powerful performance metrics, and these metrics can be presented visually in such a way that what they are telling us about the performance of the wind turbines is immediately clear to an expert analyst. In this way, business-critical data are effectively and efficiently summarised in such a way as to convey maximum information with minimum effort and expense," he said.

Using data to quickly identify problem areas and tackle maintenance issues

Performance monitoring will routinely generate recommendations to get the most from the turbines and avert incipient faults.

However it is often the case that these recommendations are not acted upon, pointed out Clive.

"Clear responsibilities and channels of communication should be established across all the organisations involved in monitoring the performance of an asset, and operating and maintaining that asset, to ensure that recommendations are reviewed, acted upon and the log of this is fed back to those conducting the performance monitoring to track and trend performance in the light of these interventions. The technical aspects of performance monitoring and the personnel that develop and maintain the performance monitoring system, the experts and analysts that interpret the results and produce recommendations, and the operational supervisory staff who instruct and administer asset inspection and maintenance, all need to be properly co-ordinated to achieve performance optimisation. The advent of powerful new performance optimisation tools raises expectations about what can be achieved, and this must not be allowed to lead to the neglect of basic procedures for their most effective exploitation," he said.

With so many parties involved in a transaction, issues of data protection and trust also become significant.

For performance-related analysis, the more data that is available, the more detailed and accurate an analysis can be.

"It is therefore important that channels of communication are maintained between all involved parties, and that parameters such as data usage and confidentiality agreements are in place as required. This enables the maximum data flow between all parties without potential damage from inappropriate data use," said Clive.

Another important consideration, according to Clive, when optimising wind turbine performance is the opportunity to more fully characterise the wind flow from which the turbines generate power. Turbine power performance constitutes the system's response to the conditions under which it operates and a complete understanding of performance cannot be achieved without a more complete understanding of those conditions to which it is responding, in terms of turbulence, wind shear, flow inclination, and wind veer – all factors which impact power output and turbine maintenance.

"Performance and condition monitoring can provide information about the response of the turbine by analysis of routine operational SCADA data and supplementary signals from additional condition monitoring instrumentation, but conventionally the conditions generating this response are poorly characterised using only nacelle anemometry. It is now possible to directly measure conditions prevailing at a wind turbine in detail using Lidar," Clive said.

This enables mechanical fatigue loading and power affecting flow conditions to be mapped across operational wind farms, and the influence of wakes, forestry and complex terrain to be immediately understood, enabling, for example,  more effective direction sector-wise curtailment strategies and predictive maintenance regimes, as well as a more complete understanding of anomalous power performance features.

Wind Energy Performance Optimisation Summit

windenergyupdate.com is scheduled to conduct Wind Energy Performance Optimisation Summit on 11th - 12th February 2009 in Hamburg, Germany.

For more information, click here: http://www.windenergyupdate.com/performance09/programme.shtml


contact Tom Evans by email: tom@windenergyupdate.com