GE Envisions The Next Generation Of Wind Farms

Built on big data, the Digital Wind Farm could boost AEP by 20 percent


GE recently announced the launch of its Digital Wind Farm, a dynamic, connected, and adaptable wind energy ecosystem that pairs world-class turbines with the digital infrastructure for the wind industry. The technology boosts a wind farm’s energy production by up to 20 percent and could help generate up to an estimated $50 billion of value for the wind industry.

The Digital Wind Farm uses interconnected digital technology — often referred to as the Industrial Internet — to address a long-standing need for greater flexibility in renewable power. The technology will help integrate renewable power into the existing power grid more effectively.

“Every business — including our own at GE — and every industry is being transformed by smarter digital technologies, and the greatest opportunity lies in energy,” said Steve Bolze, president and CEO of GE Power & Water. “The question is not whether to start down this path. It’s about knowing how to get the most out of your digital transformation. That’s what will separate industry leaders from those left behind.”

GE is leading the transformation of the wind power industry with today’s launch of the world’s first Digital Wind Farm. This new wind ecosystem pairs world-class turbines with a digital infrastructure to enhance production, reduce costs and boost operating efficiency over the life of the wind farm.

The Digital Wind Farm ecosystem begins with the production of the turbines themselves. With the next generation of “Brilliant” wind turbines, GE’s new 2MW platform utilizes a digital twin modeling system to build up to 20 different turbine configurations at every unique pad location across a wind farm in order to generate power at peak efficiency based on the surrounding environment. Additionally, each turbine will be connected to advanced networks that can analyze turbine operations in real time and make adjustments to boost operating efficiencies.

Once the turbines are built, their embedded sensors are connected and the data gathered from them is analyzed in real time with GE’s Predix software, which allows operators to monitor performance from data across turbines, farms, or even entire industry fleets. The data provides information on temperature, turbine misalignments, or vibrations that can affect performance.

As more data is collected, the system actually learns over time, becoming more predictive and “future-proofing” wind farms by maintaining top performance and avoiding the maintenance issues that typically occur as turbines age. It also reduces costs by customizing maintenance schedules to ensure preventive maintenance is done only when needed.

“GE’s focus on life-cycle operations is consistent with the way we operate our wind farms,” said Michael Polsky, president and CEO of the leading energy company Invenergy. “We look forward to working together with GE’s Digital Wind Farm to unlock even more long-term value across our fleet.”

The Digital Wind Farm builds on GE’s Wind PowerUp technology, which was unveiled 18 months ago. Now, installed in 4,000 units, the technology has improved turbine efficiency up to 5 percent, which translates to up to a 20 percent improvement in profitability for each turbine.

“Big data is worthless without the insight to take action, and our vision for the industry is to use today’s data to predict tomorrow’s outcomes,” Bolze said. “By harnessing the full power of the Industrial Internet, we can create a world where wind farms learn, adapt and perform better tomorrow than they do today.”  

— Source: GE