Australia's surging wind industry stands to save tens of millions of dollars over the coming decades by integrating life extension plans into operations and maintenance strategies for turbines of all ages, boosting value by up to 12 per cent.
That is according to ONYX Insight, a leading provider of data analytics and engineering expertise to the global wind industry.
The country's wind sector is on the rise. By the end of 2022, installed capacity in Australia will have more than doubled in just five years, to more than 15GW, with the potential for offshore wind yet to be realised.
Consequently, owners and operators are in prime position to futureproof their margins by ensuring turbines are ultra-efficient and producing low-cost power, using advanced sensing tools to avoid unforeseen component failures and asset downtime.
These advances in digital tools also present an opportunity to enhance the sustainability of wind farms, with less construction, less frequent replacements of carbon-hungry steel components, less demand for rare earth metals.
"Australia has the pedal to the floor when it comes to transitioning away from fossil fuels," said Hiren Limbachiya, Regional Manager Australia and New Zealand, ONYX Insight. "The country's wind industry has been on a steady trajectory since the Salmon Beach Wind Farm near Esperance in Western Australia began operating in the late 1980s. But we are on the cusp of development at real scale, which presents two opportunities in tandem that could guarantee the sector is at the forefront of a clean energy revolution in the country."
Many of the turbines built during Australia's wind sector infancy are now in need of either repowering, decommissioning, or life extension, before they become less reliable and productive. Globally, more than 15 per cent of wind projects will reach the 15-20 year-old bracket in 2022.
By removing uncertainty around crucial maintenance decisions, advanced monitoring technology is transforming the economics of life extension and delivering years of extra revenue for asset owners at an affordable cost.
Hiren continues: "This is the first big opportunity for operators in Australia. Successfully extending the life of a project can mean reducing the cost of operations in the long-term as the project ages. Operators need data to calculate risk levels and projected maintenance costs, allowing them to confidently assign budgets and justify key choices to investors."
But life extension strategies shouldn't be limited just to turbines that are ageing.
Australia's second big opportunity rests within the potential to use predictive maintenance to prolong the life of assets that are set to be installed in the coming months and years.
According to a recent market outlook by Rystad Energy, there is approximately 100GW of offshore and onshore wind at the concept stage in Australia, with around 30GW of onshore wind either under construction, in planning or approaching financial close.
Advanced predictive maintenance is already pushing the envelope on what is considered a useful turbine lifetime. By putting in place a data-driven life extension strategy as the turbine life cycle begins, not at the end of the warranty period, owners and operators stand to maximise the benefits.
Hiren concludes: "The incentive for owner operators to extend asset life is already in place. A turbine pays for itself in the first 10-15 years of its life. Selling electricity produced after this, once O&M costs are considered, represents pure profit. Figures from a leading renewable financial institution show that the largest factor by far affecting the value of a project was the ability to extend life – the difference between running assets for 25 years versus 20 years is huge.
"The capability to produce additional energy from a wind farm offers one avenue of revenue. There are also significant benefits gained from reducing waste through digitalisation during the whole lifecycle of a wind fleet – and the opportunity to significantly enhance the environmental impact of wind farms by being savvier with maintenance operations to ensure more responsible use of materials."
ONYX Insight | http://www.onyxinsight.com