Industrial Software increases energy efficiency in renewable plants in Brazil

Special from Vidya Technology

Vidya Technology’s Platform processes data collected in the field by artificial intelligence
Vidya Technology’s Platform processes data collected in the field by artificial intelligence (photo: Vidya Technology)

Around 30% of the world’s energy production comes from renewable sources (International Energy Agency) and this percentage is expected to grow even more. However, the maintenance of renewables, such as solar and wind farms, can be challenging, since they operate in open sites, and are susceptible to harsh weather conditions.

Some of the main challenges encountered by Brazilian companies were:

  • Low energy efficiency due to weather instability and equipment limitation.
  • Difficulty in accessing the assets for inspection and maintenance.
  • Lack of control over corrosion, resulting in high maintenance costs.
  • Vulnerability to climate and marine variation.
  • Maintenance and downtime costs significantly affect the operating margin.
  • Difficulty in gathering and monitoring operational data.

And it is exactly in this context that digital transformation emerges as a solution to combine all the company’s sustainable objectives with its economic goals, Aiming for a smart future, renewables combine sustainability and high-end technologies for enhancing operations in a data-driven era.

According to the International Energy Agency, the digitalisation of the energy sector can save USD 80 billion per year. And the main technologies involved in this process are the use of artificial intelligence (machine learning, deep learning, data analytics), IoT sensors, digital twins, and more recently, the dataops (collaborative data management practices focused on improving the communication, integration, and automation of data flows).

The Brazilian case – wind farms
With 7,500 km of coastline and rich offshore wind resources, Brazil has a promising future investing in Offshore Wind Farms. According to Emanuel Simon, director of IHS Markit’s Climate and Sustainability:

“Brazil’s potential for offshore wind development is based on the length of its coastline, the depth of waters available, and the strength of the winds that blow off its coastline, especially in waters adjacent to north-eastern states.”

While Offshore Wind Farms are not so broadly used, onshore wind farms are already widespread in the region, accumulating almost 90% of all the wind energy production in the country. However, for this equipment to achieve its full potential along its lifecycle, adequate maintenance based on monitoring devices is a key factor in this scenario.

The most commonly used sensors for Wind Farms Condition monitoring are accelerometers, temperature, and pressure sensors. However, this data is not available on centralised platforms, being hard to cross the information collected by them to have meaningful insights. Moreover, as is quoted in the article Key Performance Indicators for Wind Farm Operation and Maintenance:

“Data collection on wind turbine failures is not standardized and there is an important lack of failure data, contributing to a high level of uncertainty related to the indicators. We would also like to mention the importance of initiatives for the standardization of data and reliability analyses.”

In the face of this challenge, they looked for IoT sensing solutions in addition to the ones they already have combined with data analytics. In that way, Vidya Technology, a company that develops software through a stack of technologies such as dataops, artificial intelligence, reality capture, 3D models, and digital twin, was selected to monitor assets and increase energy efficiency.

By collecting, crossing, and analysing this data inspectors were able to access important information and avoid corrective interventions by monitoring the whole area of the wind farm selected for the project through a virtual platform
By collecting, crossing, and analysing this data inspectors were able to access important information and avoid corrective interventions by monitoring the whole area of the wind farm selected for the project through a virtual platform (illustration: Vidya Technology)

The main goal of the project was to integrate sensor data available on the client’s PI database into Vidya’s Platform, so the data collected on the field could be processed by artificial intelligence. Creating predictive algorithms by feeding them with historical data such as failure history, further crossing information from temperature, speed, vibration sensors, and Foucault currents, to predict gearbox failure. By crossing these data, it was possible to standardise failure data and develop a predictive model fed with historical data with the analysed parameters for predictive maintenance.

Together with that, a visual alert system associated with 3D models was installed, notifying the responsible team of possible failures. In that way, it was possible to quickly identify components that need to be fixed or replaced, increasing efficiency by guaranteeing the reliability of the equipment.

By collecting, crossing, and analysing this data, it was possible to manage activities at the wind farm, schedule inspections and maintenance, and monitor the integrity of assets and energy efficiency. In that way, inspectors were able to access important information and avoid corrective interventions by monitoring the whole area of the wind farm selected for the project through a virtual platform.

The solution enables:

  • Energy efficiency optimisation through asset performance monitoring.
  • Intuitive visualisation of the asset and processes directly in the 3D model.
  • Customisable dashboard with all the asset’s data.
  • 59% man/hour reduction.
  • Decrease in both mean time between failure (MTBF) and mean time to failure (MTTF).
  • Contextualised data from sensors, software, and other sources.
  • Energy efficiency optimisation through asset performance monitoring.

Renewable energy is the future of energy and since its cost of manufacturing and implementation has been dropping, this method has been calling the attention of stakeholders and investors around the globe. For the scalability and competitiveness of renewable sources, Digital Transformation comes as crucial assistance for the development of a more safe, efficient, agile, and reliable industrial process.

Vidya Technology works towards disseminating the usage of Digital Twin Technology. Experienced in engineering, software, and hardware development background, Vidya combines Digital Twin, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things to enhance Operation and Maintenance, leading worldwide industries to a new data-driven era.