This week global engineering company Emerson announced that it had formed a 3-year alliance with Vayu to combine Emerson’s Ovation automation platform with Vayu’s cloud-computing wind energy optimization technology. The new technology will optimize wind farms in the Americas, Caribbean and Europe.
In traditional wind farms, each turbine is individually optimized. Each creates its own turbulence, or wake, which prevents downwind turbines from receiving full energy from the wind stream, significantly reducing wind energy production. Vayu estimates two-thirds of U.S. wind farms experience reduced capacity due to wind wake.
Emerson and Vayu’s solution leverages key data and machine learning to enable turbines to work cooperatively, adjusting the side-to-side movement of each turbine based on wind speed, wind direction and other parameters to extract the optimum energy from wind, according to the companies.
Emerson’s controller will communicate data from each turbine’s wind sensor to the Vayu system every 1-2 seconds, which the two companies say is much faster than the 10 minutes typically required to perform this function when using traditional equipment. This near-real-time data enables a more accurate calculation of the optimum setting for each turbine.
Ovation compact control technology was designed specifically for renewables and other highly distributed energy applications and can easily interface with any turbine controller — regardless of manufacturer — eliminating the significant time and expense associated with removing and replacing existing turbine controls.
The companies estimate that with their approach there are more than $500 million in revenue opportunities from just a fraction of the approximately 450 wind farms in the United States.
“Combining the respective strengths of Emerson and Vayu creates a first-of-its-kind, intelligent solution for wind farm optimization,” said Bob Yeager, president of Emerson’s power and water business. “This initiative will help wind energy producers maximize their aggregate power output, achieve their financial objectives and deliver more clean power to their communities.”
The wind power market continues to grow: 53.9 gigawatts were added in 2018, bringing the overall capacity of all wind turbines installed worldwide to 600 gigawatts, according to the World Wind Energy Association. The United States—the second-largest wind power market—added 7.6 gigawatts of capacity last year.
Beyond the additional revenue from megawatt production, the advanced solution from Vayu and Emerson might also help U.S. wind farm owners take advantage of federal production tax credits awarded for increasing electricity output of existing wind turbines, said the companies.
“Instead of embarking on full-scale repowering projects that can cost millions, wind farm owners can make a small investment in this integrated solution to boost power production and qualify for the tax credit,” said Vayu CEO Jim Kiles.