July 5, 2021 — Customer Stories
How to turn your data insights into action
Greenbyte has been helping wind farm operators to gain extra value from the data in Greenbyte Platform by adding our partner Bitbloom into the mix. Here’s how.
Marketing Project Manager, Greenbyte
Two heads are better than one.
We all know the saying and, where wind farms are concerned, it happens to be right. Renewable energy operators and asset managers often turn to Greenbyte because they want to use our Platform to give a second opinion on official SCADA data, and help them find ways to run projects more profitably. We become a second SCADA, which helps them negotiate with turbine makers, investors and other stakeholders.
And what about when you want a third opinion? Well, we can offer that too!
In this article, we are going to look at a recent project that Greenbyte carried out with our partner Bitbloom to help a key player in the European renewables industry to get more value from their data and boost profits. Specifically, Bitbloom provides analysis that helps turn the data in the Greenbyte Platform into ‘actionable insights’ and gives operators clear steps to improve. We offer this via our Marketplace app store.
We’ll explain how this works and the financial benefits we achieved.
Most of our customers use the Greenbyte Platform to monitor availability metrics at their assets. This shows them whether their wind and solar farms were generating electricity when they were meant to, and helps the owner or operator to decide the actions they might need to take to fix any problems.
This data can also be used when operators make financial reports to their investors. Jon Martin, customer success manager at Greenbyte, says the reporting work needs a high degree of accuracy and the data often has to be provided at very short notice.
“That’s extremely time sensitive with extremely firm deadlines on those,” he says.
Many operators also benefit from the Plan module in the Greenbyte Platform, which enables them to manage day-to-day operations at their assets and track the events and failures that caused the biggest financial losses. Martin says that this makes a major contribution for asset owners as they plan their asset management strategies.
“In Plan, you can link a specific finding to a specific turbine at a specific site, and the status code as well. That means you can, in theory, link that to a specific downtime event and know how much you’re losing. This is a huge benefit for asset owners, and means they can work most effectively with their operators,” he says.
But sometimes operators want to go deeper – and Greenbyte was approached in the second half of 2019 by a customer that wanted to do so. Greenbyte has worked with UK-based Greencoat Capital since 2015 to help manage the wind assets in the investment funds it manages, which now total almost 1.7GW of capacity in the UK and Europe.
Greencoat had expressed a desire for more insights from data analytics to maximise the potential of the assets. That’s when we brought in our partner Bitbloom.
The practical difference for operators is it brings another interpretation to the data, and can therefore enhance and audit the outsourced performance analysis that is already being carried out by its operators. Bitbloom helps to provide that additional perspective in addition to the analysis that Greencoat was already carrying out.
Staffan Lindahl has worked in wind since 2006, with a focus on operational assets. In 2016, he formed a business to give insights on the performance of wind farms based on their operational performance data, and merged with another company in 2019 to form Bitbloom. His focus is on sharing ‘actionable insights’ that help operators make improvements to their assets to boost performance.
Greenbyte started working with Bitbloom in 2020 to offer an add-on to our Greenbyte Platform called Actionable Insights as a Service (AIaaS), which is available in our Greenbyte Marketplace. Lindahl says AIaaS helps operators to see more trends in the data in the Greenbyte Platform than they would otherwise be able to. Crucially, this then gives asset owners such as Greencoat greater insight as to how to act on that data.
“These are things they could pass on as recommendations or requests to operators, either when they need more information to be able to make positive decisions, or to get something improved or changed,” he says.
In practice, this includes improvements that can boost project profitability, from boosting project availability and fixing control systems to monitoring impacts of wear and tear. These are all areas asset owners can focus on to guard against losses.
How does it do this?
In short, Lindahl says Bitbloom applies its tools and processes in Sift and Sift Monitor to the data in the Greenbyte Platform. Together with its experience and domain expertise, this can turn raw data into insights, and show asset owners how far turbine performance is deviating from where it should be.
This means asset owners can question the operators and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), support and drive the conversations with evidence from the data, ensuring the matters are properly prioritised and addressed.
There are broadly two main types of issue that this analysis can highlight: issues that have a clear impact on energy production and wind farm profitability; and issues that do damage to profitability but where the final impacts are hard to quantify.
Lindahl explains further: “If you see that turbines are not running optimally, and there is an action you can take to fix that, that’s tangible.”
“But there’s also an aspect where we can see deviations between turbines, like components that are running too hot or a tower that is vibrating excessively. Corrective action may not impact performance, but there may be significant hidden value in avoided or delayed failures years from now which cannot be quantified now,” he says.
Lindahl says he can recall two examples of problems that it was able to help Greencoat to address. Overall, though, he says that AIaaS has helped Greencoat and its external operations managers to identify several issues to fix or investigate during the first half six months of its one-year study.
These insights also help Greenbyte in the ongoing support it provides to customers.
First, AIaaS found pitch controller issues with one OEM’s turbines, which were caused by systems not being re-calibrated correctly following service.
This causes a short-term loss because turbines aren’t operating optimally – and are sometimes seeing a 7%-10% reduction in energy production on affected days – as well as longer-term problems that can result from turbines being exposed to larger-than-expected structural loads.
These issues tend to be corrected within four to ten weeks even if they aren’t picked up by us but, in practice, power curve performance degrades by approximately 10%, leading to £100-£200 loss per turbine and day that the issue is active, so prompt detection is clearly desirable. This is an issue that can be fixed remotely by the OEM, but asset owners can only make that improvement if they know it’s a problem.
AIaaS services from Greenbyte and Bitbloom can help spot those problems– whether they are used on an ongoing basis or, as in Greencoat’s case, for a fixed period.
Second, AIaaS found yaw misalignment on another manufacturer’s turbines.
It is estimated this caused a 2%-5% loss in annual energy production at the affected turbines, which costs between £10,000 and £25,000 per turbine each year in terms of lost revenue.
“Ten-minute SCADA statistics are almost universally available from wind farms these days, but a lot of organisations fail to use this data to its full potential,” says Lindahl. “We see that it is possible to detect a large number of yaw misalignment cases if we use the right analysis techniques, and it doesn’t need additional high-frequency data or additional hardware.”
The bottom line
Asset owners find the AIaaS approach useful to help them better understand their asset portfolio, so they can develop a strategic roadmap to optimise and improve the projects. It enables them to identify and prioritise issues that they need to deal with.
Finally, it also provides an important health audit, which Greencoat says is beneficial for its assets even if there are no immediate problems to fix. A clean bill of health is still a valuable finding as it shows owners the assets they don’t need to worry about. This means they can direct their attention to assets and issues that need more focus.
Working with expert partners that solely focus on asset performance and integrity can be a beneficial add-on to increase the robustness of the existing management which, in Greencoat’s case, was already comprehensive.
Greencoat is keen to develop the partnership. Two heads may be better than one – but, in this case, three heads are better still!
If you’d like to find out how AIaaS could help your business, get in touch.