The O&M control centre keeps an eye on customers’ wind farms 24 hours a day, seven days a week. (Source: BayWa r.e.)
Monitoring, intervention, evaluation, inspection – these keywords provide just a short description of the most important tasks of technical management. It is clear that a wind farm can only generate electricity when the wind is blowing, but trying to make use of every movement of the air and keeping the turbines in constant technical readiness – this is the responsibility of round the clock technical management.
“More and more tasks have been added to the field of technical management in the last few years,” says Torsten Flemming, authorised officer and commercial manager at deanBV. Reporting obligations and the monitoring of permit conditions such as bat or shadow management are within his remit, for example. A further important subject is taking on responsibility for the turbines. According to DIN VDE 0105-100/EN 50110, which regulates the operation of electrical systems, each of these systems must be under the responsibility of an electrically qualified person (electrician) for any work done which concerns an electrical element. Because the turbine operator does not always have this qualification, he may pass on these tasks to the operations manager. “The operator is liable as the responsible party to the turbine,” stresses Sven Harder, head of technical management at Westwind, “but this is often neglected.”
A smartphone instead of a clipboard
An important point when keeping an eye on costs is the increasing level of digitalisation – so much so that individual operations managers such as the company Dirkshof are even already employing their own software developers. Ever-more operations managers are no longer sending their employees out to turbine inspections with a clipboard and a digital camera, but with smartphones and the relevant apps. “Faults at the turbines can be flagged up immediately and loaded into the monthly report,” explains Wiebke Wiechering from the Oldenburg-based company Windpunx. In this way photos can be directly categorised, transfer errors can be avoided and the process is faster as well. Many operations managers also enable their customers to have real-time data access to their turbines.
This means that more and more data from individual turbines is being gathered, which may play an important role in the future. Those receiving feed-in tariffs from the earlier EEG days do not necessarily need to know which of their turbines in a farm is generating what amount of electricity, but this has changed with the tendering model. Here bids are made relative to a 100 % reference site. How the individual site deviates from this leads to a higher or lower remuneration. However, the true yields must be accounted for at a turbine-specific level every five years. Depending on whether the farm runs better or worse than envisaged, the operator may receive money or have to pay some back.