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Digital Twins in Wind Power Industry

image credit: ANNEA.ai GmbH

A digital twin is a concept that in fact is older than it might seem. It was firstly introduced in 2002 but back in the days it wasn’t cost effective to implement. The situation drastically changed once the Internet of Things (IoT) has started to become more and more normal.

What is a Digital Twin? A digital twin is a virtual copy of a machine allowing to simulate their real twins with the data available. Nowadays the technological possibilities allow to create copies even of large, complicated systems such as buildings and cities. 

In 2018 Gartner claimed that “with an estimated 21 billion connected sensors and endpoints by 2020, digital twins will exist for billions of things in the near future." 

This future is already here.

So, who creates digital twins and how? Usually it is data scientists or tech guys with applied mathematics background. They come up with mathematical and other types of models (e.g., physical) that simulate the behaviour of physical objects in a virtual reality as precise as possible. The use of Artificial Intelligence and self-learning algorithms helps to make the Digital Twins better and better. 

Now let’s think about wind turbines. What kind of “behaviour” do they have and how to monitor it? Generally speaking, wind turbines' behaviours are very hard to predict, due to the highly variable and quickly changing nature of the wind itself. The good news is that today we can improve it by using Digital Twins.

The Digital Twin receives data from the wind turbine’s sensors and simulates the behaviour in real time, offering insights into current health status, future failures and also detects underperformance. The wind farm operator will be notified in advance about any occurring problems. The notification period varies depending on the technology used. Nowadays some companies are able to predict a failure up to 120 days before it happens.

Digital Twins of wind turbines allow to reduce maintenance costs by: 

·      Reducing the number of visits to the wind farm;

·      Fixing broken parts instead of buying new ones;

·      Providing a root cause analysis on component level (when, how, where and why it will fail).

By creating Digital Twins on wind farms, the performance of clean energy assets will enhance, making renewables more affordable and help the world in moving towards a Greener Economy.

Dana Sultanova's picture

Thank Dana for the Post!

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Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 15, 2020 3:50 pm GMT

The Digital Twin receives data from the wind turbine’s sensors and simulates the behaviour in real time, offering insights into current health status, future failures and also detects underperformance.

This is interesting-- can you also combine this digital twin of the turbines with forecasted weather data to see more exact predictions about the near-term future generation? 

Dana Sultanova's picture
Dana Sultanova on Jul 16, 2020 9:44 am GMT

Yes, of course you can and it should be done for the case you described. We are already forecasting it at ANNEA for some parts of our backend. Others are under development.

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