On the windy west coast of Jutland, in the town of Esbjerg, a team of Vattenfall wind turbine operators monitor around 1,000 onshore and offshore wind turbines. Wind farms spread as widely as Sweden, Denmark, UK, and Netherlands are monitored from this control room.
By Anne Korsgaard
At the heart of surveillance: Stand still time is expensive. In approximately 90% of the emergency stops from a wind turbine the operator can simply restart the wind turbine from the control room. This is why, in 2008 it was decided at Vattenfall to upgrade the staffing to a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year surveillance.
Surveillance cameras. One of the monitors in the control room shows real-time footage from the Horns Reef 1 substation with rain drops on the camera lense. This makes it possible for the monitoring staff to keep an eye on such things as fishing boats that come too close to the wind turbines with the risk of damaging the cables
The golden log files: All the data is saved at all times from every single wind turbine and available for analysis. Situations may occur where these files are investigated in the case of unforeseen breakdowns or repeated alerts from a specific wind turbine. Vattenfall will use log files in research projects in order to make predictive maintenance and improve the ways of assessing when a wind turbine needs repairing. Photo: LORC.
Servicing or just repairing at Horns Reef 1, 14 km off shore. Weather impact plays a big part in this: For two thirds of the year vessels are used to access the offshore wind turbines, and those days both planned service and repairs are being carried out. For the remaining third of the year, for instance when the significant wave height exceeds 1.3 meters, helicopters, which are up to three times as expensive, are used as the means of transportation. Also, a helicopter only carries 75 kg of luggage (spare parts and tools) and four people. Photo: Heidi Lundsgaard.
Morten Hansen, wind turbine operator at the control station in Esbjerg, explains: “The most dramatic incident I have experienced was one morning arriving at work to a control room of concerned colleagues. Moments earlier the entire Horns Reef had cut out and nobody knew exactly what had happened. It turned out that the cause was to be found in a fault at the substation”.