Deep Energy Expertise Drives Improved Operations

As more and more power generators bring renewables assets into their portfolios, complexity of operations is becoming an increasingly popular theme. In a recent interview with Wind Systems magazine, Emerson’s Matt Roberts dug into that complexity and the tools available to help solve it. He started off with a common issue among generation and distribution companies,

“We’re hearing customers say things like, “I want standardization; I want my engineers and operators going from my coal plant to my gas plant to my hydro plant to my wind turbine to my solar sites.” These customers benefit when their personnel are all familiar with the same platform and with broader innovation.”

Fortunately, Matt explains, that standardization is already possible with fit-for-purpose software tools available in Emerson’s Ovation Green portfolio. That term—fit-for-purpose—is a critical element. Plenty of companies are creating software solutions to improve generation in traditional and renewables plants, but just managing control isn’t enough. Matt explains,

“On the energy-management side, you’re seeing a lot of the grid and connection requirements changing. You’re seeing a little bit on the battery integration and hybrid sector, and even more on the solar side. Our customers want more integrated controls between asset types. Energy management at the park level or at the fleet level is an area of focus for us.”

To accomplish that higher-level integration, generators are embracing a Boundless AutomationTm vision for their automation. These organizations are carefully planning their automation investments—working toward a common data fabric that seamlessly moves data from the field, through the edge, and into the cloud, regardless of whether that data is coming from greenfield solar or wind installations, or traditional energy generation facilities that are decades old.

Not all software is created equal

Operating at that park or fleet level, not to mention successfully integrating with the energy grid, takes expertise. Fit-for-purpose solutions are built by automation companies like Emerson that have decades of expertise in automation for many different types of power generation. Not only has Emerson been working with traditional generation companies for decades via its Ovation platform, it has also increased its depth of expertise via strategic decisions like the acquisition of Mita-Teknik who developed some of the earliest wind controls back in the 1980s.

Acquiring that deep expertise in wind operations has provided Emerson with tools that are critical to empowering its customers. As they acquire wind sites, Emerson can put control of those new assets into the hands of operators, unlocking thousands of data points that were previously available only to the OEM. Why does that matter? Matt explains,

“Our customers are striving for ownership and access to their assets. They want to be able to see all of the data that’s being generated. They want to know the condition of the equipment that they have. A lot of times, new turbines are going in with service agreements where they don’t have access to what’s going on. I heard a story from a customer recently where they have condition monitoring equipment on the units, but they don’t know the data; they don’t even know what the alarm thresholds are. They just know whether there’s a problem or not. And when the equipment gets turned over to them in 10 years, they won’t know the history of it.”

Solutions like Emerson’s wind turbine control system retrofits eliminate such struggles, putting control back into the hands of an organization’s own personnel, and allowing them to truly own their equipment, with the freedom to operate it in a way that better fits their needs.

Matt shares many more insights into the way renewables are changing the face of power generation in his full conversation with the editor of Wind Systems. Head over there to learn more!

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