Infrastructure Energy & MaterialsNovember 26, 2023

How Virtual Twins can make Wind Farms Fit for the Future

As the shift to clean energy picks up pace, the pressure is on for providers to accelerate sustainable wind power generation. Virtual twins can optimize the design, construction and operation of wind farms.
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Avatar Victoria Martinez

As the shift to clean energy picks up pace, the pressure is on for providers to accelerate sustainable wind power generation. Virtual twins can optimize the design, construction and operation of wind farms.

Renewable energy can make electricity more affordable, help with decarbonization and improve nations’ energy security. It’s no wonder, then, that great efforts are being made to accelerate the generation of wind power. Earlier this year, the global wind industry reached one terawatt (TW) of installed capacity – a milestone that has taken 40 years to achieve. The two TW mark is expected to be reached in less than a decade.

Despite this clear advancement in wind technology, there’s still much to be done. Moving away from a decades-old energy infrastructure designed around fossil fuels towards one where most electricity comes from renewables will require tremendous effort.

The need for speed

Research suggests that at least 1.5 TW of new wind and solar power capacity is needed each year by 2030 to meet the 1.5C limit of the Paris Agreement sustainably. Ramping up this quickly won’t be easy. According to Global Wind and Energy Council’s Global Wind Report 2023, poor market design and procurement have led to a ‘race to the bottom’ on wind pricing, while inflationary pressures combined with government price caps have exacerbated the squeeze on profitability. “This has led to underinvestment in manufacturing and has created the likelihood of supply chain bottlenecks in the years to come,” the report says.

Success will come to a wind sector that can navigate these challenges effectively and efficiently.

Offshore vs Onshore

While onshore wind farms can be constructed in a matter of months – and are relatively inexpensive to maintain – changing wind speeds can lead to intermittent energy generation.

Thanks to higher, more consistent wind speeds and fewer constraints on the size of wind farms at sea – offshore wind farms can generate more electricity at greater levels of reliability, effectively overcoming intermittency issues and facilitating the seamless integration of wind power into the grid. That said, building and operating wind turbines in deep-water locations is far more complex than on land.

Whether offshore or onshore, developers need to ensure that their turbines are fit for the future. One way they can do this is by leveraging a single integrated platform that facilitates the creation of a virtual twin of their wind farm.

The power of a Virtual Twin

Virtual twin experiences, such as those provided through Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform, enable developers to visualize, model and simulate every aspect of their wind farm in the virtual world, before it is built in the physical world. This brings multiple advantages. At the ideation stage, developers can run an infinite number of simulations on the virtual wind farm to optimize and validate the design, materials and production processes. By significantly reducing the need for physical prototyping, development and operating costs are slashed.

Virtual twin solutions also help companies to innovate sustainably. By leveraging lifecycle assessments, developers can be confident that they are choosing the most sustainable options and embedding circularity into their turbines from the very beginning.

As the project progresses to the engineering and construction phase, simulation capabilities on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform are essential to model the dynamics of wind turbines to strike the right balance between environmental impact mitigation, technical efficiency and financial viability. Using machine operations management, integrated detailed planning and scheduling empowers companies to reduce supply chain complexity and better use resources to minimize waste.

This isn’t all. A virtual twin provides the digital continuity needed to optimize the performance of turbine components and equipment long after assembly. By integrating with artificial intelligence and IoT sensors on site to create a feedback loop, operators can better understand their working turbines and create automated preventative maintenance schedules that minimize costly breakdowns. This is particularly useful in offshore scenarios when physically monitoring operations is not easy.

The path to success

Offshore and onshore wind farm operators are at a critical crossroads. Their success hinges on how they implement technology to meticulously model turbine dynamics, optimize wind energy production against demand and automate preventive asset care. Get this right, and they can win the race to deliver sustainable and clean energy and facilitate a better future for us all.

Ready to learn more about the power of Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform?

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