Satellite systems control Spanish wind farms

28 September 2009

Iberdrola Renovables says it is a world leader in electricity production from renewable sources. From its operations centre at Toledo, 70 km south of Madrid, it controls ten wind farms that total 9,600 MW. The communications link is provided by a private satellite network.

Previously each wind farm was monitored from one local SCADA station by telephone. All the required data were saved to disk which was then passed to whoever did the data recording.

To modernise the operation, the company chose Paris-based ARC Informatique´s OPC-based client-server SCADA software, PcVue, and several FrontVue light clients.

The main objective of the project was to gather information from the wind farms, especially alarms and historical data. The control system at each site samples the main operational data from the generators and the various substations. The operations centre uses these data to identify and diagnose potential problems and so to intervene to effect a solution.

Windows-based PcVue and FrontVue are capable of managing millions of I/O points online from thousand of devices. Up to 2.5 million data items are monitored by the FrontVue client stations, which communicate via OPC with the front end over a 1,000 Mbps redundant TCP/IP Ethernet network. Each front end can receive up to 60,000 I/O points. Currently they are 13 PcVue file servers that manage a million real-time variables and the network can be extended without limits or structural changes.

Using the PcVue-FrontVue architecture, the operators can analyse the data from the remote wind farms in detail. They always have the situation under control and can perform corrective actions at the right moment in case of breakdowns.

Given the huge volume of data (around 350 points per turbine) and so as to ease maintenance operations, the supervision takes place at two levels:

* The upper level gives a panoramic view of the most significant alarms, data values and counters, as required for monitoring the turbines and to detect faults that require intervention;
* The next level is more detailed to enable better analysis of all the data from the turbines so that the operators can immediately and accurately diagnose problems and take appropriate action.

All of the data received are processed by way of setpoints, historical data, alarms and trends.

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