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Utilities Challenge the Status Quo to Scale Up Wind Power

September 13, 2009—Two decades ago wind turbines were put up, mainly by green fingered, well intentioned folk with the primary aim of being able to produce enough power so that they could become independent from the national gird. The methods undertaken regarding the planning, installation, operation and maintenance of these turbines was secondary, tertiary and in many cases simply not considered.

“This is how the wind business has developed and has grown. They treat it more like single individual turbines rather than thinking ‘this is a power plant’,” says Peter Dalhoff, Managing Director at GL Renewables Consulting & Engineering.

Today an individual turbine is able to produce energy in the multi-megawatt capacity, and wind farms and parks can commonly host over two dozen turbines. Offshore wind installations are now being planned and constructed with over 100 turbines as standard in many cases.

Scaling up means that the issues that were glossed over in the early days are now much more pertinent. The investment costs going into wind projects range into the multi millions, and the owners and operators of the biggest wind farms are now large scale utility companies. Utilities can be expected to push to achieve maximum power output from wind farms using integrated management systems similar to those found in the oil and gas industry.

“If you speak with utility companies… it’s obvious that they need asset integrity management, they know it from their day to day power plant business. They might be the first ones to ask for integrated management systems,” says Peter Dalhoff.

Peter’s view is that the wind industry could lend a hand from conventional power plant experts:

“If we look at UK Round 3 offshore wind farms, or the German far distant offshore wind farms, they will have around 80 5MW turbines. And that means that management and management systems for these wind farms also need to be as professional as for conventional power plants.”

Peter will be sharing his views and his company’s services to the wind energy industry this November 17-18 in Hamburg at the 2nd annual Wind Energy Operations and Maintenance Conference. He’ll be joined by over 25 key operators, industry bodies and leading minds in Europe where they will spend two days discussing the challenges and issues in O&M right now and helping operators to reduce time & cost on their core turbine maintenance and maximise power production with effective data analysis.

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