Siemens Wind Power
Wind provides clean, renewable energy. The core concept is simple: wind turbines spin blades to generate power. However, today's systems are anything but simple. Modern wind turbines have blades that sweep a 120 meter circle, cost more than 1 million dollars and generate multiple megawatts of power. Each turbine may include up to 1,000 sensors and actuators – integrating strain gages, bearing monitors and power conditioning technology. The turbine can control blade speed and power generation by altering the blade pitch and power extraction. Controlling the turbine is a sophisticated job requiring many cooperating processors closing high-speed loops and implementing intelligent monitoring and optimization algorithms. But the real challenge is integrating these turbines so that they work together. A wind farm may include hundreds of turbines. They are often installed in difficult-to-access locations at sea. The farm must implement a fundamentally and truly distributed control system. Like all power systems, the goal of the farm is to match generation to load. A farm with hundreds of turbines must optimize that load by balancing the loading and generation across a wide geography. Wind, of course, is dynamic. Almost every picture of a wind farm shows a calm sea and a setting sun. But things get challenging when a storm goes through the wind farm. In a storm, the control system must decide how to take energy out of gusts to generate constant power. It must intelligently balance load across many turbines. And a critical consideration is the loading and potential damage to a half-billion-dollar installed asset. This is no environment for a slow or undependable control system. Reliability and performance are crucial.