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Giving your assets the Edge

by RES | May 30, 2021 | Reading time: 2 min

As a global asset manager, we capitalise on the latest advances in digital intelligence to deliver better results for clients. The better the analysis we carry out, the more our clients benefit from increased revenues and we all benefit from more clean energy feeding into the grid.

The latest innovation we are using to improve asset performance on-site is edge computing. Simply put, this involves deploying computers at the physical edge of an organisation’s IT network, or in our case, the generation assets themselves. This enables the real-time analysis of asset status, weather and electricity pricing, all of which can be used to provide a rapid response and optimise renewable assets.

Using edge computers alongside AI and machine learning means that we can effectively manage environmental challenges such as bat, bird, sound and shadow flicker. We have recently used this technology on a site in Norway to help us manage shadow flicker. We have taught our system to classify images taken from cameras mounted on-site, which can distinguish between brightness due to snow covered ground and direct sunlight. Importantly the system can apply judgement on a grey overcast day. At this site, scheduling turbine stops had previously cost in the region of a 1.9% yield loss. The system has reduced the yield loss to c.0.9%, providing an uplift in generation without affecting the amenity of nearby residents.

As an asset manager, with a control centre that monitors assets globally 24/7, we understand the importance of ensuring that there is no loss of data from site. In addition, the use of edge computing ensures that in the event of any loss of communications, there is a backup link to site via a mobile phone network ensuring no loss of data and an added layer of resilience.

This technique can also integrate a wide array of sensors to monitor aspects such as tower vibration, blade torsion or other factors that affect the asset health. This enhanced data enables us to better and more effectively schedule proactive maintenance works to ensure that any potential faults are rectified before they become more problematic.

The opportunities and benefits offered by edge computing and Industry 4.0 are vast and rapidly growing. Knowledge is power and edge computing enables the integration of new applications and digital enhancements to help us improve the performance of renewable assets, contributing towards our goal of meeting net zero.

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