PC VUE monitors US wind farms

19 November 2010

One of the largest energy providers in North America has chosen PC VUE SCADA system to monitor it’s US-based wind farms which produce 3,600 megawatts of wind power over 35 independent power plants.

Each of Iberdrola Renewables’ 2479 wind turbine supplies about 300 to 350 data points, which equates to between 700,000 and 850,000 I/O data points on around 24 servers.

The latest operation for Iberdrola Renewables is its National Control Center where systems analysts remotely oversee every turbine at every wind farm throughout the US. They monitor the performance and efficiency of the turbines, and monitor the weather, to warn on-site technicians of potentially difficult weather conditions.

An important element of the operation is the SCADA system. Each wind turbine has a control box containing a PLC, power converter, control boards and an I/O device at the top. Sensors for wind speed, wind direction, shaft rotation speed and numerous other factors collect and transfer data to the PLC. By detecting the wind’s direction, the control system can use a motorised yaw gear to turn the wind turbine in the proper direction to achieve maximum power generation.

All wind turbines are connected to a LAN, with each wind tower’s control box using Ethernet to link to the base of the tower which houses a fibre-based, redundant ring LAN connection. The LAN is connected to a remote control station running a control system that manages and collects data, adjusts turbine settings and provides intelligent alarm, troubleshooting and reporting capabilities via a central data center and control facility.

The central control station is equipped with a PcVue SCADA system that acts as a nerve center for the wind farms. It connects the individual turbines, the substations, the meteorological stations the bird/bat aviation radar and other wildlife preservation surveillance systems to the central control room. It provides visibility for the operator to supervise the behaviour of all the wind farms. By keeping a record of the activity on a time interval basis, PC VUE allows operators to determine what adjustments and corrective action, if any, need to be taken.

Iberdrola Renewables uses multiple turbine types and each turbine supplier provides their own control/HMI system. The PcVue SCADA system is PLC vendor independent, so that it operates irrespectively of turbine type. This was of particular importance to Iberdrola who have wind farm operators using multiple turbines and a variety of PLCs.

During the implementation process, Iberdrola’s team were impressed by the easy configuration of PcVue. Its ability to iconise animated mimics and use pop-up windows reduced the risk of overlaying crucial information helped simplify the view for Iberdrola’s team. Also, the creation of templates for contents and behavior, associated with each mimic and GUI (graphical user interface) animation, ensure consistency of the window display.

Iberdrola Renewables is using OPC (and others) as the communications protocol to pull data from the various PLCs. It uses PcVue’s OPC Data Access Client and OPC DA XML Client for exchange of real-time data with communication servers, and OPC DA Server to facilitate data exchange with third-party applications. All of the data acquisition that occurs is routed back to the National Control Center.

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