25 / 11 / 2015
Wind turbines can operate efficiently only if they are continuously adjusted to suit the climatic conditions. Fiber optic cables can deliver fast, reliable data transfer not just on land but also for offshore wind farms.
Cost effectiveness is one of the major challenges facing electricity generation from renewable sources. The cost effectiveness of wind turbines depends on a large number of factors. These include their location, the standardisation of components, the size of the turbines and blades, and the ability to control the systems as precisely as possible. Offshore wind turbines, for example, generate 50 per cent more energy on average than onshore turbines of a comparable size.
To control the turbine correctly, the nacelle must be permanently adjusted to the wind direction. By adjusting the rotor blades, it is possible to keep their rotation speed constant over a wide range at different wind speeds. To enable this, a large amount of environmental and operating data must be recorded, processed and returned to the turbine in the form of control commands.
Fiber optic cables have proven to be the medium of choice for handling this flood of data. They are insensitive to the powerful magnetic fields which occur in the vicinity of turbines. They also transfer the data from the nacelle to the tower base with almost zero losses.
Durability and reliability of the components are particularly important for offshore systems since maintenance technicians can access the system only by boat or helicopter.
A leading manufacturer of wind turbines has selected HUBER+SUHNER to supply the fiber optic data cable system for an offshore wind farm which will be built over the next few years in Western Europe. The system connects the data source and controllable elements in the nacelle to the data cabinet in the tower base. Not only is the system extremely reliable and durable, but it is also very simple and quick to install. Durability and reliability are particularly important for offshore systems since technicians can access the system only by boat or helicopter if maintenance work is required. That incurs additional costs.
The solution consists of time-tested standard components which have been converted into a bespoke plug-and-play system by the developers at HUBER+SUHNER. Therefore, in the rare case where maintenance work is required, there is no need to replace the entire system but only individual components. This minimises maintenance costs and downtimes, thus helping to ensure cost-effective energy generation from renewable sources.