Wind Plant Monitoring

Assessing Operating and Electrical Performance of Wind Plants

Wind power is the fastest growing form of electric generation in the world. Environmental friendliness, proven turbine technologies, and dramatically declining costs of production are driving unprecedented growth in the industry. Wind generation is even reemerging as an important “hedge” against the uncertainties plaguing energy markets.

As wind plants grow in size and number, questions about their possible impacts on the electrical grid become more complex. Whether it is a large-scale facility supplying bulk power or a distributed generation application providing on site power, these questions must be answered. Relating largely to design and operational issues, they address

  • Impacts of the plant on operation of the electrical grid or customers on the grid
  • The plant’s ability to honor capacity, reserve, and firm power transfer commitments
  • Special protection requirements or operating constraints stemming from grid stability or safety considerations

Answering these questions requires attention to design and engineering of the plant, as well as monitoring plant output and operation. Electrotek provides an extensive array of power systems engineering services, as well as the ability to remotely monitor wind plants.

Why Monitor?

Electrical system monitoring is a critical component in obtaining a comprehensive picture of a wind plant’s performance. Monitoring can be used to identify problems with wind turbine components and wind plant electrical systems and assist in solving and even preventing them. Specific applications include

  • Diagnosis of equipment misoperation and failure.
  • Identification of grid-side phenomena responsible for turbine faults or failure.

Wind Plant Monitoring 1

In addition to providing benefits centered around existing wind plants, monitoring can aid in the design and construction of pending and future facilities. Monitoring can also assist in addressing industry-wide concerns about various aspects of wind plant performance, including interaction between the plant and the utility grid, impacts of utility power system operations, and validation of wind turbine/wind plant models and simulations.

How Is It Done?

To provide meaningful analysis of wind plant performance, the data collected should include monitoring of power quality and system disturbances as well as high-resolution trends. SCADA systems typically available at all wind plants can collect vast amounts of data that can be used to provide this level of performance assessment. However, there is technology available now that can provide a greater level of detail in a user friendly, readily accessible format.

We use the Dranetz Encore Series™ system for monitoring of wind plants. Co-developed by Dranetz, and Electrotek, this web-based monitoring platform is ideal for capturing required data and making it available to interested parties using a standard web browser. The Encore Series system can detect a variety of power system disturbances and offers accurate time stamping of data as well as optional GPS to aid in fault location and analysis.

We place monitoring equipment at key locations throughout the wind plant, most specifically at the points of connection with the transmission system. Through our powermonitoring.comSM service, we download data collected from the instruments and make it available via a password-protected web site. Anyone with access privileges can view the data, along with analysis and summaries.

Our Experience

We have ample experience in wind plant monitoring applications. We completed a major project for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to collect information from two large wind plants in the central U.S. The multi-year monitoring program characterized wind plant output and allowed better understanding of the potential impacts on transmission systems and provided opportunities for improving integration of wind power resources.

Real and reactive power, along with three-phase voltages at the interconnection point, were sampled each second and stored during the course of the project. We also collected meteorological data from each plant. The resulting information has been valuable in developing improved models for aggregate simulations of large numbers of wind turbines for system performance studies.

We are also monitored four wind plants as part of a project for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) that developed dynamic stability models of various types of wind turbines. These models gave ERCOT engineers the ability to assess system stability by having accurate wind farm models. The monitoring provided important validation of the models.

Putting It All Together

As wind plants grow in size, sophistication and number, the technical challenges related to electric system design and interconnection to the transmission system will continue to grow more complex. At the same time, advancements in wind generation technologies will offer new challenges as well as opportunities. With our understanding of advanced monitoring applications as well as wind technologies and power systems, Electrotek can help you move ahead.

Wind Plant Monitoring 2

Sample configuration for a wind farm monitoring system. There is no landline available to contact the system, so a satellite link is being used.

PDF Click here to download Electrotek’s wind plant monitoring brochure.