‘Marginal Gains’ continue to elude wind owners

‘Marginal Gains’ continue to elude wind owners

Wind energy investors can greatly reduce operations and maintenance costs and increase power output with more active approaches to asset management.

Reactive operational strategies adopted by many wind asset owners are failing to provide increased performance and returns across European wind portfolios. Combined, turbine misalignment, poor yaw control, and incorrect pitch settings can add up to the significant detriment of wind farm outputs. Yet too often, the analysis required to discover these anomalies is conducted on an ad hoc basis or not completed at all. That at least, is according to Clir, the leading provider of digital asset performance technology for the wind industry.

As the European wind energy industry has matured post-subsidy, wind asset owners have increasingly looked at how to elongate turbine lifetimes, increase project returns by enhancing performance, and better understand how their assets work.

Yet, despite this driver, there is still a disconnect between the actions that many asset managers are taking in order to try and optimise performance. Too often, turbine asset management relies on reactive strategies, which, while ensuring failed equipment is swiftly repaired, do not provide owners with increases in performance and hence, returns.

But, by adopting more active approaches that would include monitoring the effectiveness of existing turbine yaw and pitch settings, and subsequently adjusting, operators can see gains of up to 5% across a portfolio.

“In isolation, these adjustments may seem too small to make a fundamental difference to project performance,” says Gareth Brown, Managing Director, Clir. “But while each represents a ‘marginal gain’, collectively we tend to see overall performance improvements of up to 5%.”

“The wind industry’s relatively short maturation over the last 25 years or so, coupled with a move to merchant operations, means that we’re constantly learning how to extract better performance from our assets,” he continued.

“But too often, current operations and maintenance strategies are reactive, and fail to realise the potential for performance gains from wind energy equipment.

“As the industry evolves, this will clearly have to change, particularly as projects see the expiration of subsidy, push for lifetime extension, or come out of manufacturer warranty. We know that investors are starting to look more closely at their returns, which will materially affect their decisions on which projects to acquire or hold.”

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Clir hits 6 GW milestone, tripling its global asset portfolio in a year

Clir hits 6 GW milestone, tripling its global asset portfolio in a year

Leading wind farm optimization and monitoring firm sees significant growth across 2019, onboarding a number of key global asset owners as investor focus moves to performance and revenue certainty 

New figures from Clir Renewables, the leading cloud-based AI platform that provides asset managers and owners with tools to maximize annual energy production, surpassed a total of 6 GW of assets on its platform in 2019, a three-fold increase from 2 GW at the end of 2018. With a number of asset owners currently progressing their portfolios through Clir’s full onboarding process following successful trial periods, this growth shows no sign of slowing.

Across the onshore and offshore wind industry, unexpected turbine downtime and underperformance can see energy production – and therefore revenue – significantly lower than forecast. This can have a substantial effect on the financing of wind projects, particularly as large investors move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. As such, improving turbine performance to maximize energy yield is vital to ensuring these investments remain profitable.

Clir uses artificial intelligence to analyze wind turbine data. The software identifies causes of underperformance, from blade icing to suboptimal derating plans, and provides asset owners and operators with strategies to improve performance and thereby increase annual energy production by up to 5%.

Identifying the true causes of underperformance from turbine data can be extremely difficult using typical methods of analysis. By using artificial intelligence to analyze turbine data, however, it is possible to generate a baseline of performance and recognize patterns that indicate not only when the turbine is performing sub-optimally, but why. This gives owners and operators the complete understanding of their asset necessary to take action on underperformance.

“As investors in renewables increasingly focus on asset performance and revenue certainty, we are able to use artificial intelligence to support wind farm owners in developing a complete understanding of their asset necessary to fix faults, maximize asset lifetime, and optimize for both performance and profit,” said Gareth Brown, CEO, Clir.

“Much of the information that owners need to fully optimize their assets is difficult to parse out from raw wind farm data. Typical analysis cannot provide an accurate understanding of whether energy is being lost due to wind resource or whether energy is lost as a result of asset underperformance. But by using AI, Clir can make those distinctions clear to owners, allowing them take informed actions to improve performance.

“2019 saw our biggest period of growth to date, hitting a new milestone of 6 GW, which we see is a clear indicator of the demand for wind investors to better understand their projects as the markets continue to evolve.”

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Tackling data unknowns is vital for continued growth of offshore wind

Tackling data unknowns is vital for continued growth of offshore wind

Offshore wind can greatly reduce operations and maintenance costs and increase power output with a better understanding of asset performance

Until the offshore wind industry uses its data effectively to quantify the impact of offshore conditions over turbine lifetime, offshore wind will continue to face high operational costs, miss initially modelled power output capacity, and as a consequence suffer increased financing costs.

This is, at least, according to Clir Renewables, the leading provider of digital asset performance technology for wind energy, which supports over 5 GW of assets worldwide. Clir analyzes wind turbine data via artificial intelligence in order to identify causes of underperformance, informing asset owners and operators of strategies they can take to improve performance and thereby increase annual energy production by up to 5%.

The offshore wind industry is credited as the principle way forward for utility-scale renewable energy across many markets, and is set to expand up to 70 GW to account for 9.9% of Europe’s electricity needs by 2030. However, this growth continues to be accompanied by a proliferation of ‘operational unknowns’ that risk this target being missed.

Indeed, as recent financial results from major offshore wind operators have demonstrated, revenues may be pushed downwards by risks that in Clir Renewables’ opinion were predictable. If offshore wind technology is to be effectively capitalized upon in the future, it is important that owners and operators are investing in technologies that provide a more granular understanding of operational performance and feeding back lessons learned.

“Larger turbine designs and the stratified atmosphere found in offshore wind have pushed the demands facing this technology to greater heights than ever before,” commented Gareth Brown, Chief Executive Officer, Clir.  “Clarifying the effect of the harsh offshore conditions on new turbines, however, still remains a challenge for the industry.”

“We know, for example, that capacity expectations have been developed optimistically, as you can’t take underperformance into account if you rely on old design assumptions which don’t cover the performance issues new offshore turbines, such as atmospheric stability that drives wake effects and the blockage effect. Focusing on these unknowns is key to informing financial decisions for future expansion of the industry.”

“Artificial Intelligence, and its proliferation into renewables, is an essential tool to answer many of these questions, but its integration must be based on deep domain expertise applied and built with transparency from all stakeholders.  Only then, can we take a further look at performance, drive new cost efficiencies in operational projects and feedback into new development assets.”

“Ultimately, having a complete picture of asset performance will be absolutely crucial to the continued growth of offshore wind.”

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Clir invests in expanding AI capabilities for under-optimized wind industry, appoints Louisa Thue as CTO

Clir invests in expanding AI capabilities for under-optimized wind industry, appoints Louisa Thue as CTO

Innovative wind asset optimization firm appoints former data and engineering VP to drive the expansion of Clir Renewables’ industry-leading AI capabilities

Clir Renewables, the leading provider of digital asset performance technology for wind energy, has announced the appointment of Louisa Thue as Chief Technical Officer (CTO). Louisa brings her experience in technology, data analytics, and scaling Software-as-a-Service products to the cutting edge of renewable energy optimization, and will drive the expansion of Clir’s cloud-based artificial intelligence capabilities across the global wind energy industry.

As the global wind industry moves into a post-subsidy marketplace, there is increased financial pressure on asset owners to ensure their projects achieve maximum generating potential. However, recent analysis of wind farm output indicates that in the US alone, the under-optimization of wind assets and subsequent downtime results in the loss of enough energy to power more than one million homes each year.

But, project owners across the wind industry are sitting on an incredibly rich – but largely untapped – resource that can address this sub-optimal performance. AI can make asset data work much harder for projects, ultimately driving more cost-efficient operations and increasing power generation.

Commenting on her appointment, Louisa said: “There is a huge opportunity for software and data analytics in renewable energy, and I look forward to bringing my technical experience to Clir as it invests in optimizing energy generation and asset availability across the global wind industry.”

Gareth Brown, CEO, added: “We are delighted to bring Louisa on board. She’s a powerhouse here in the Vancouver software and data analytics industry, whose reputation precedes her. We are incredibly excited about the impact she will have at Clir as she works with our technology group and data science teams to increase the financial performance of renewable energy assets.”

With a clear market opportunity to assist the wind industry in improving its asset performance, Clir has recently closed its Series A funding round, securing a $7.1m investment from ArcTern Ventures. The funding will enable the company to focus on additional development of its AI-based analytics platform and optimize power generation at a global fleetwide level.

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Clir Renewables scoops award win at the European Wind Investment Awards

Clir Renewables scoops award win at the European Wind Investment Awards

Vancouver based software company secures Start-up of the Year title at European awards.

Last Thursday in a London banquet hall filled with industry peers, Clir Renewables was announced as Start-up of the Year at the inaugural European Wind Investment Awards. Hosted by A Word About Wind, the awards celebrated best practice in the European wind industry.

In winning the award, the Vancouver based Software as a Service company was recognized for its growth in 2018. The host noted, “The judges were impressed with the Clir Renewables growth and achievements. An excellent product fulfilling a true market need.”

The Canadian company opened its first European office in July 2018 to support its growth in the industry. At the beginning of 2018, Clir Renewables had 1.5 GW of assets on its system, which grew to 3 GW by the end of 2018.

After collecting the award, Clir Renewables CEO Gareth Brown, said, “It was brilliant to receive recognition from our industry peers for the impact we are having on the market. There is a huge opportunity for us as we go into 2020 to roll out onto 100 GW of assets and drive up the financial returns of wind farms on every continent.”

By achieving Annual Energy Production (AEP) gains for clients, Clir Renewables is not only supporting owners increase project returns, but contributes to the ongoing transition to clean energy sources.

The judging panel included Paul Maile (Eversheds Sutherland), Laura Fleming (Siemens Gamesa), Carol Gould (MUFG Bank), Marie de Graaf (Orsted), Aris Karcanias (FTI Consulting), Manahil Lakhmiri (Engie), John MacAskill (Offshore Wind Consultants), Carla Riberio (DNV GL), Simon Clement-Davies (Agusta & Co.) and Michael Van Der Heijden (Amsterdam Capital Partners).

The Clir Renewables team celebrating the award win on October 31

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