A fair wind for climate change initiatives

As an official partner of the COP22 climate change conference, ABB is championing wind power as key to meeting climate goals

These are exciting times for everyone involved in the renewables industry. In October, the European Parliament followed the European Union Council of Environment Ministers in approving the ratification of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. This clears the way for national governments to follow suit.

With the EU committed to reducing emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, and to having a renewables’ share of 27 percent, wind power will play a crucial role in achieving these ambitions.

To make the case for wind, and to help EU policymakers understand where to prioritize R&D efforts and resources, ABB and other players have collaborated to produce a “Strategic Research Agenda. It was presented to Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the European Commission for Energy Union, in September at the annual meeting of WindEurope, the European trade federation of the wind energy sector.

Integrating wind into the power grid

One of the key challenges facing renewables and the wind industry in particular is the integration of wind energy into the electricity grid from both on and offshore wind farms. Today, this requires wind power plants to have a host of grid support functions such as frequency and voltage control, power balancing and black-start capabilities. However, over time, it will be necessary for these functions to be integrated into grid operation processes, if wind is to become a trusted energy resource capable of supporting power system stability and reliability. ABB is in the process of further developing and testing support functions to ensure that the necessary technologies are available as soon as possible.

Optimizing wind energy systems

Another challenge is the maintenance and optimization of wind energy systems. Here, it is essential to increase kilowatt-hour production, improve reliability, and reduce cost of energy. Here, the power of digital technologies is a key enabler because the most effective and efficient solution to this challenge is an industrial digital platform capable of hosting monitoring, analytics and control technologies. Combined with modern sensors and communication systems, such a platform can harness an increasing amount of data from a diverse portfolio of renewable assets, giving wind operators a real-time perspective of operations at every level, from the wind turbines, to the power substation, to the grid connection.

By employing solutions base on data analytics and artificial intelligence, it is possible to continuously optimize power yields, understand the condition of equipment and thereby extend its lifecycle, paving the way for wind to become a cost effective energy resource and therefore an integral part of a European power grid.

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About the author

Alfredo Parres

I am the head of ABB's Wind Industry Sector Initiative. Currently based in Spain, I am passionate about wind energy and the many opportunities it offers to transform the world. I have been active in the wind industry since 1999 in the areas of marketing, sales, business development and product management. Since 2013, I have been the chairman of the Renewable Energy Working Group at the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China and now a board member of the WindEurope and chair of its Networks Working Group.
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