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What is infrastructure reliability and redundancy? And why is it needed at your wind farm?

Infrastructure reliability and redundancy is one of the critical pieces of a project as it is the sites data bearing transport method and yet it is often over looked in the daily operations until it breaks.  Your infrastructure must be reliable to ensure data flow, and it also has to be redundant in the event of a failure within the infrastructure. Without both you may find your project not acquiring all of the needed data for operations. Without having full data acquisition, the site may not have the appropriate data for supplying reports to off-takers, utilities, regional authorities as well as internal financial staff for production sell.

Here is a basic example of site infrastructure:

infrastruture_reliability

Questions you may think of:

  1. Why should I worry about reliability?
    • Reliability of this infrastructure is critical to maintain continuous monitoring during curtailments, remote troubleshooting, and collecting data for contractual reporting.
    • Having a reliable infrastructure allows the owner to maintain the asset and monitor for NERC availability of the site production.
    • The higher your reliability the better your project runs.
  2. Why should I invest in redundancy?
    • Having a reliable infrastructure is great, but what happens when a primary infrastructure link is broken?
      • Example: A farmer is plowing for the season and somehow digs up the fiber and disrupts communications to 15 of your asset
      • Scenario 1: Operations receives a call from the utility to curtail the park to a 0 output. With 15 assets not communicating to the system, the site cannot stop the turbines without driving to each unit and stopping them. This results in increased operating cost.
      • Scenario 2: Disruption of communication may lead to a decision to stop the turbines impacted . This results in lost production and revenue.
    • Redundancy of your infrastructure allows for a few “breaks” in the system before communications are interrupted.
    • Redundancy can be many different methods: redundant fiber lans or meshed
      • What is meshed? Meshed is combining 1 or more types of networking to creating redundancy. This can be Fiber Optic LANs and Radio LANs, Fiber Optic LANs and Cellular LANs, etcRequest a Quote
  3. How can I improve my infrastructure to operate the best it can?
    • First you need to know what you have. Documentation is “key”.
    • Next you have you need to determine how you can monitor it.
    • Preventative maintenance, this is most always overlooked for infrastructure. You should set a good PM procedure for touching and verifying the infrastructure at least twice a year. Fibers even though they are plugged in all the time still require cleaning and inspection. Verifying all connections are as they are documented is also critical as over time technicians may need to move from one port to another for some reason such as a bad port, improperly reconnecting after a repair, etc.
  4. How can I manage this layer with no technical staff?
    • Managing the infrastructure can be a full time job if the proper tools are not in place.
    • Look out of box with 3rd party services for managing the infrastructure.
    • Send site based technicians for training on the products used within the infrastructure.

Infrastructure reliability and redundancy is critical component to managing your wind farm. It ensures reliable site communication which is essential to remain compliant, to manage operations cost, and to maximize project production.

~ Heath Pratt, Senior Manager of SCADA Technology & ICS at UpWind Solutions Inc.

UpWind Solutions has a SCADA staff with a combined 35 years of experience and has helped many projects ensure infrastructure reliability and redundancy.