September 10, 2020 — Customer Stories
Parkwind uses Greenbyte taxonomy to maintain its edge offshore
We talk to Yannick Huyghebaert, O&M Team Lead WTG at developer Parkwind, about how a smart taxonomy helps it commercially through a project’s life cycle.
Director of Marketing, Greenbyte
“In the commissioning phase, it’s quite difficult to optimise the performance, as all of your turbines are in a different phase of their life.”
Yannick Huyghebaert, O&M Team Lead WTG at developer Parkwind, is explaining why it is so challenging to optimise turbine performance while an offshore wind farm is being commissioned. The process is costly, the weather conditions can be harsh, and everyone involved is rushing to get all of the turbines up and running.
“During commissioning periods, manufacturers and contractors want to move fast. Construction works and progress get priority above focusing on a steep availability ramp-up of the already installed turbines. The project and O&M teams have different objectives, and this ‘conflict of interest’ can temper good availabilities the first operational months and a loss of important insights in technical challenges.”
This is very unfortunate as the lost production involved quickly adds up.
It is a process that Parkwind has been through in the last 12 months on its most high-profile development. Offshore construction started on the company’s 219MW project Northwester 2 in July 2019 and finished in May 2020. Huyghebaert says real-time monitoring of turbine performance can play an important role in commissioning.
In this article, we discuss Parkwind’s experience of working with Greenbyte’s system during commissioning of Northwester 2, and how the Greenbyte Platform’s taxonomy feature has played a big role in optimising its operational portfolio. This is important for day-to-day management of projects and a wider range of commercial decisions.
Offshore wind is one of the only ways to build renewables at scale in Europe.
It is therefore unsurprising that the industry is dominated by those with deep pockets, from utilities such as Ørsted, RWE and Vattenfall to multinational investors such as Global Infrastructure Partners and Macquarie Capital.
Compared to them, Parkwind is something of an anomaly. The company was set up by the Belgian supermarket operator Colruyt Group and its main shareholder Korys in 2012. It is one of the few smaller firms that continues to thrive in European offshore wind as the industry keeps evolving at a rapid pace.
Over the last ten years it has built a portfolio of large projects in Belgian North Sea.
The company now operates four wind farms in the North Sea with total capacity of 771MW. As well as Northwester 2, these include the 50-turbine Nobelwind, the 72-turbine Northwind and the 56-turbine Belwind, which was its debut project. In total, this means the company currently has 201 offshore turbines in operation.
It is looking to grow this further with additional offshore wind projects by 2023, such as the Arcadis Ost and Oriel developments in Germany and the Republic of Ireland respectively. It is also considering moving into renewables beyond offshore wind.
But Huyghebaert, who joined the company six years ago, says that Parkwind has retained its agile qualities despite this steep growth: “We don’t believe in overstaffing of engineers and operators. I’m in the O&M team taking care of turbine assets and our long-term service contractor, and I lead a team of only four guys – five including myself. But we do believe in enhancing our skills and capabilities by the right tools, like Greenbyte Platform,” he explains.
This means Parkwind needs an O&M data platform that gives insights into how each of the turbines is performing, as well as any wider trends to be aware of. He says Greenbyte Platform enables the team to focus 100% on performance analysis rather than data collection and processing.
“In the past we didn’t have a system like Greenbyte, and we relied on the SCADA system of the turbines. Mainly we were processing data into readable formats, and had less time to really do the analysis, to learn from it and try to challenge it,” he says.
“With this system, you just open your browser and you get the insights immediately, shortening the lead time to challenge the service contractor about a technical finding.”
On schemes such as Northwester 2, this has enabled Parkwind to identify technical issues on the earlier turbines that would have become more significant issues on the later turbines: “For sure this had benefits,” he says.
This is a particular benefit offshore where the limitations in accessibility can make a small technical issues leading to large financial impact.
“Any small issues we need to try to take off as soon as possible,” he says. “It doesn’t need to be big to cost you a lot of money.”
This is where real-time O&M monitoring can be a big benefit offshore. It can help to diagnose common problems in a turbine fleet – and it was a desire to understand this that led Parkwind to begin working with Greenbyte in early 2019.
Huyghebaert says one of the pre-requisites for the partnership was that Greenbyte could help Parkwind to pinpoint common issues on different turbine platforms. The Greenbyte Platform offers this through a standardised taxonomy function that can pinpoint the performance of any of the wide variety of components in a turbine.
“It’s something we really want to focus on,” he says. “We see a lot of added value in the ability to understand which parts are costing revenues. That’s always the most important question: which components of a turbine is giving you a headache?”
This taxonomy function shows owners how much downtime and lost production can be attributed to a specific part of the turbine. This includes five levels of hierarchy, so it doesn’t just show that there’s a problem in the gearbox, for example, but to exactly which component within that gearbox is causing the problem. Every component has a sensor in it and so every error can be mapped back to a specific troublesome part.
The real power comes when this is extrapolated across a whole portfolio. It enables customers such as Parkwind to see which components are consistently failing them, and causing most financial losses.
Daniel Geissert, customer success manager at Greenbyte, says the taxonomy is based on the ‘industry standard reference designation system for power plants’ (RDSPP) that categorises all of the individual components within a wind turbine, up to 155 different types of components – from the gearbox to the fire alarm system.
“Everything that is in the turbine should be in this list, and that is the brilliant part of this mapping. You should be able to point and then to quantify which components are causing you downtime and lost production,” said Geissert.
The taxonomy is put together for turbine models by the engineering specialists in the Greenbyte team.
Huyghebaert says these insights can have huge commercial benefits. For one, they enable the company to identify components that can cause issues down the line as well as compare performances across the full fleet. Anticipation and preparedness is key.
“They really enable us to compare turbines and turbine types to each other, to make the right statistics, and to tell our management and our shareholders… We focus on understanding every single part of the turbines to make sure that we will prevent further loss of revenue due to these components,” he says. This helps Parkwind to give transparency on performance to its shareholders on a monthly basis.
“We want to understand what is costing us money, and enable us to go into further discussion with manufacturers to push for solutions for technical issues,” he says.
“It enables us to understand the strengths and weaknesses of certain systems… When you buy a turbine it’s like buying a car from a catalogue. You pick the model type, you pick the engine and you choose the colour. Now we have much more additional data to engage with the suppliers prior to a purchase decision,” he says.
This is why Parkwind needs a consistent taxonomy underpinned by reliable data.
“Even a stupid problem can cost you a lot of money, so you really need to be on top of your data and have your statistics, and not only look at absolute figures. You need to see the frequency of occurrences, number of turbines, and where you are seeing these issues to understand what’s costing you money,” he said.
For firms like Parkwind, being on top of turbine data and profitability gives them an extra edge in a competitive industry.