Data sharing to maximise wind energy’s contribution to net-zero transition

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A new report released by engineering firm ONYX Insight states that for the wind energy sector to be fully competitive and to enhance its role in the energy transition, stakeholders need to adopt best data sharing practices.

The report, DATA ACCESS AND OWNERSHIP: How the wind industry can leverage knowledge from rail, aviation and shipping, states getting better at sharing operational data will enable stakeholders within the sector to fully uncover and take advantage the energy transition has to offer.

Wind energy sector players have been urged to leverage data to optimise their operations in the same manner sectors such as aviation is using data, for wind to be able to compete with fossil fuels and play a key role in the decarbonisation of energy. Within the aviation industry, data belongs to asset owners but all parties have a stake in its fair usage. This collaboration enables the development of tools that can predict when maintenance is required, which have helped to drive down operational costs and increase aircraft up-time, thus reducing disruption.

Currently, most OEMs in the wind energy sector can restrict access to data. Among the top 12 CMS (Condition Monitoring System) hardware providers, comprising over 80% of the market share, only one gives turbine owners and operators full CMS data access. Four CMS providers offer limited access and seven give no access to data at all, limiting owners’ maintenance and servicing options.

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Although the wind energy sector has managed to digitise and adopt predictive maintenance capabilities, the lack of access to data by various players is slowing down the introduction of new services resulting from data analytics. By sharing data, the wind energy plant operators are able to leverage more detailed insights for better asset management, long-term O&M planning, and enhanced strategic maintenance, the study highlights. Data sharing would also result in new analytical methods such as the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve turbine performance. Improved data sharing has the potential to fully unleash AI and lead to a significant reduction in LCoE (Levelised Cost of Energy) across the renewables sector.

The launch of the report comes at a time when unexpected turbine failure due to lack of real-time monitoring contributes to 58% of OPEX costs, the bulk of which is reactive, unplanned maintenance that could have been avoided.

Bruce Hall, CEO, ONYX Insight, said: “With a rapidly falling LCoE, solar energy is gaining market share. The wind sector needs to continually look for ways to increase its competitiveness and boost efficiencies to realise its crucial role in the energy transition. This will ensure that our future energy mix is diverse and takes full advantage of the technologies available to drive decarbonisation. Collaborating on data access is a critical example of how the wind industry can do this.

“Our report shows there is no universal or standard approach to data sharing, but wind should follow aviation’s lead by empowering owners and operators. To be clear, OEMs shouldn’t be put into a position where they are having to provide intellectual property around design – that data belongs to them. However operational data is different; open access to operational data is critical as it helps owners get the very best out of their asset.

“The technological advances and increased reliability that could be derived from better sharing of data are crucial in accelerating the green agenda, and play a huge role in driving down the cost of energy to make wind more competitive.”