• LTE-Cat-M1
  • Energy Technologies
  • Energy Technologies
  • Wind Turbine Vendors
  • Wind Turbine Blades

OSIsoft and Partners Help Demonstrate the Power of Private LTE Networks

May 29, 2018

Wind Energy 3

Sempra Energy called on a consortium of vendors to help deliver a real-time wind farm monitoring system after suffering from expensive, unplanned turbine outages at its Broken Bow II wind farm in Custer County, Nebraska. Failure in pitch assemblies are one of the most common causes of wind turbine outages. The run-to-fail cost per turbine is well over $100,000—cranes are needed to dismantle the blade assembly and return it to the ground for repairs. On a windy day, assemblies cannot be returned to ground, so must remain idle until it is safe to do so. However, if Sempra could identify problems before they occur—such as the need to replace lubricant—a crew could carry out maintenance and repair work from inside the turbine at a fraction of the cost.

A private LTE network was built by Nokia to facilitate the collection of high speed data from sensors in the turbine towers and stream it back into OSIsoft’s PI data historian. The private LTE network was selected as few other options beyond point-to-point radio were previously available at the remote site. While microwave was option, an LTE chosen for its ability to scale to different use cases.

Beyond high speed data acquisition into PI, LTE can also be used for remote monitoring, site security, video streaming, and remote collaboration. Sempra Energy is keen to investigate new video use cases video for remote assistance and training of maintenance workers, and also to monitor and ensure that health and safety regulations are adhered to.

A Vendor Ecosystem Was Required to Deliver the Solution

SenseOps built the gateways that collect, store, and transmit high speed sensor data across the Nokia LTE network and into Sempra’s PI system. SenseOps’ challenge was to take an off-the-shelf gateway from Advantech and ruggedize it to operate in temperatures between -5°F to +100°F, installed 300 feet in the air in a wind turbine. An additional challenge was that, because of their location, the gateways must reset, reboot, and upgrade firmware remotely.

Nokia built the private LTE network across the wind farm, which then connects to a local internet service provider’s network. Nokia used Qualcomm’s technology to build the LTE network, which is so new that this example is a pre-commercial release. Qualcomm has been driving the development of private LTE on the 3.5 GHz band, which will be fully released later in 2018. OSIsoft’s PI data historian stores the data and makes it available for analysis.

Wind Farm-Based Internet of Things Deployment Has Potential for Growth

As with most Internet of Things deployments, the Broken Bow project began with a strong business case to develop a monitoring system that would save it millions of dollars over a 10-year period. However, there is further value that can be created by the technology. We have already discussed remote sensing and collaboration; however, more intuitive algorithms could be developed in the future by cross-referencing data from this wind farm with others, increasing the set of data from which the algorithm can learn, and creating detailed insights.