New Turbines…New Problems.
Some Observations from Richard Distl, COO

We’ve all been been there.

A new project is close to completion, the stress of the construction phase is at last reaching an acceptable level, but then the adrenaline rush for the operations teams kicks in. Even though everyone is thrilled that a completely new turbine type, with even longer blades and the promise for higher AEPs will be in operation soon, a little devil whispers in your ear: “Will it be different this time? Or will the new turbine type have as many teething troubles as the last one?”

The industry is growing so fast that nearly every project uses new turbine type. First you will see that the construction phase may not run as smoothly as anticipated. New construction techniques challenge the teams on site, and they simply don’t have enough time to optimize their installation process. Once they have it optimized, they will never construct the same turbine type again.

Then the commissioning teams come on site, and you may again get the feeling that they are all freshmen, although they have been through these processes many times, but guess what – Never for this turbine type. So, the odyssey continues. It’s as though you’re living in Groundhog Day.

This isn’t a firestorm against the OEMs;, they themselves are struggling with the speed of development the market demands. If we want to reframe it positively, it is great to work in an industry that is growing, both in technological terms and in total volume. I remember myself saying: “Wow, with turbine type XY, we’ve reached the limit. What shall come next.” But then the OEMs keep on surprising us and we keep cheering, when we see the repowering potential, we have on a site. More energy with less, larger turbines is not a dream, it is a fact.

Meanwhile, for the construction departments, new turbines come at the cost of delays. For the operations teams they present numerous issues, both minor and major, that need to be tracked and handled. A well-managed claim management process is needed to identify and respond to such issues in a structured way.

Recently, we had a customer who encountered some of these challenges.

Alongside the “older” turbines (that were once themselves fresh and exciting!) they installed new turbine types in some of their repowering sites. Initially, it seemed that the issues encountered were just normal commissioning problems, but as time passed, a more complete picture emerged. The customer faced problems with generator bearings, deviation of the OEM power curve that need further assessment, blade related downtimes, sector control that didn’t work as expected, icing sensors that needed to be adjusted and environmental protection settings that did not do what they were supposed to do.

In these scenarios it is good to have a partner like i4SEE that works as a second set of eyes, keeping track of all abnormalities in a structured way and relieving stress from the operation teams. This allows them to focus on what they do best, fixing issues and working on claims. Having a dedicated partner that is dedicated to finding these issues helps the operations team to focus on what brings the most value and not to waste time on searching through data to find problems. Even if a deep dive into data analytics is needed and the operations teams need more evidence or different ways to support the claim management process, i4SEE has a high value offering. If you are interested in i4SEE Investigations™, i4SEE Yield™ or i4SEE Delta™ contact us, we are happy to discuss in which way i4SEE can help you most efficiently.