Optimizing Turbine Performance and Profitability

Apex is a leading pioneer of implementing modern, proactive clean energy asset management strategies, including platforms to address turbine performance and profitability.

Optimal performance and increased asset reliability and availability are two common goals among asset management teams across the wind industry. Unfortunately, many wind farm operators are addressing these goals through a reactive strategy—that is, they are using only historical data to optimize assets for increased reliability. This approach is typically used to address performance or reliability issues in response to asset failure or on prescribed calendar-based intervals and is not suitable for an entire class of assets given the particularities of the wind industry (i.e., varying environmental conditions from site to site, assets subject to different loads even at the same site, and so on).

Apex is a leading advocate for a wide-scale implementation of modern, proactive asset management strategies. With the development of faster computers, data acquisition, high-speed processing, and advanced analytics, large amounts of data are available for real-time asset performance and reliability diagnostics and prognostics. Asset-related data can now be readily collected from various sources, such as the site SCADA systems, engineering reports, oil analysis programs, vibration monitoring, and meteorological data, as well as maintenance-related data captured in a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).

The Apex Turbine and Site Performance Optimization Platform was able to increase our customers’ annual revenues by $1.5 million during the first eight months after implementation.

Apex has implemented two platforms to address turbine and site performance optimization and turbine life cycle reliability and availability. Both platforms were developed in accordance with the MIMOSA standards for operations and maintenance in manufacturing, fleet, and facility environments. There are six blocks of functionality in a condition-based monitoring system: data acquisition, data manipulation, state detection, diagnostics assessment, prognostics assessment, and advisory generation. Both of the Apex platforms address all six blocks of functionality.

Turbine and Site Performance Optimization Platform

The Apex turbine performance and site performance optimization calculation engine is able to detect, in real time, deviations from nominal performance curves as well as from site averages. In addition, a set of engineering-based “crisp” rules—used with data-driven techniques—are employed to identify the underlying cause of underperforming turbines. Once such a turbine or site is identified as underperforming, a work order is opened in the Apex CMMS to be addressed by plant operations and site maintenance teams. Data collected during troubleshooting activities is collected into a knowledge database that helps with future recommendations.

Apex’s first-tier software and proprietary network topology allows its operators full visibility and detailed access to each wind and solar asset.

Turbine Life Cycle Reliability and Availability Platform

The Apex turbine reliability and availability platform is focusing on optimizing each asset’s remaining useful life (RUL) based on historic, current, and future asset operations. Current RUL is based on historical operating conditions and can be estimated as total accumulated damage (fatigue and extreme events) to a turbine major component. Future reliability and availability is then improved based on smart anomaly detection and improved asset management processes.

It is important to note that although high asset reliability and availability can always be obtained at high capital-expense and operating-expense costs, Apex’s platform balances all three to create an optimal operations and maintenance strategy.