European O&M Conference in Hamburg Tackles Cost Reduction, Asset Longevity

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In January, an international delegation gathered at the 6th Annual O&M Forum in Hamburg to discuss key themes and trends across the O&M field.

The meeting was attended by major operators of wind farms including AKUO Energy, Axpo Power, DONG Energy, EDF, EDP Renewables, EnBW, E.ON, ESP, GDF Suez, juwi, Mainstream Renewable Power, RWE Inngogy, Scottish Power Renewables, Scottish & Southern Energy, Statkraft, and Vattenfall—all of whom weighed in on critical discussions regarding cost reduction and increasing asset lifetime amongst others.

Key themes that emerged from the meeting included the need for more effective data management; the attitude towards remote monitoring; consolidation and optimization of the industry; creating a local supply chain; and bridging the gap between operations and investors.

Among the first to present, representatives from Axpo Power discussed the importance of effective asset management. Advocating a proactive approach, the speaker said that the wind industry has a fragmented nature, and it is clear that wind farms need to pool together in order to insource capabilities and services to reduce costs. If there are fewer vendors per wind farm then there are less technologies to maintain, making spare parts easier to source and allocate and making data more consistent across one farm.

In a networking breakout session, Dong Energy representatives mentioned how the attitude towards remote monitoring in the U.S. has only just changed; previously it has been very cost adverse. Dong’s position is that that it requires discipline within an organization to implement an effective CMS strategy. Most companies are capable of developing good systems, but the key to success is how you implement it and use the system to maintain the asset with an effective strategy.

The need to involve investors was another re-occurring theme. Many participants mentioned that investors tend to outsource as a reflex, thinking that O&M is the OEM – typically because they are not aware of the options that are available and don’t know the value of sourcing. Therefore, the focus really needs to be on asset management, which is the language that investors speak. They need reassurance on how they will get a return on the expected lifetime of the asset. Naturally there is a long-term risk associated with investing in wind, as if the asset is not maintained correctly it will not perform at its optimal level of output.

The key themes and conclusions that ensued this industry meeting will be addressed in more depth at the Wind O&M Summit in Dallas on April 14-16. For more information, browse the “upcoming events” section at www.windenergyupdate.com.