Designing the Future of Wind

Wind energy is still young and its potential is powerful. Harnessing the right technology, tools and partners, our industry will drive down cost in the maximum possible way.

In 2030, wind will be the least-cost generation resource in the energy mix. Here’s why.

The wind industry’s relatively short history in the energy mix has already flown through several phases of innovation. The cost reduction potential of wind power, however, is far from being fully realized. Innovation that builds on the industry’s journey to date and harnesses the current revolution in connectivity and machine learning will be instrumental in driving wind to be the most affordable, safe and reliable energy source available in 2030.

This rapid innovation in connectivity and data science is available to all players in the energy mix, but wind’s potential upside is arguably the greatest among them. Unlike more conventional energy technologies, modern wind turbines were developed during the electronic revolution and are more adaptable to ever-evolving technology than most energy sources. To realize this potential, operators and owners must be savvy enough to invest in the following areas:

Data Design > Harnessing Operations Upside

The data already captured by wind equipment has the potential to transform many areas; however, its most immediate and profitable opportunity is in operations. Wind owners and operators can produce more with what they already have by more intelligently harnessing the power of existing data. The wind industry is already an early entrant into the data revolution and by investing in cloud-based software solutions that weren’t possible five-years ago, the wind industry will vastly improve operations quality, safety and effectiveness. Owners and operators will have easy access to the same real-time data, allowing them deep insights into their fleets and better communication, including with turbine OEMs, about business priorities. Opportunities for enhancing and expanding data capture will drive even greater insights and value. Operations will only be the start; fleet management software ecosystems encompassing all areas of the business will be the norm by 2030.

Equipment Design > Reducing Uncertainty

Sufficient understanding of the range of operating environments in which wind turbines operate remains a major challenge. Equipment and its maintenance currently cost more than necessary due to remaining knowledge gaps about the relationship between wind resources and wind turbine physics. Breakthroughs in weather modeling and how wind turbine rotors and structures respond to the wide array of wind behavior, including dynamics specific to each turbine within each wind farm, will be increased in the near future, bringing clarity and enabling lower-cost design solutions.

Grid Design > Adapting to Intermittency

Our aging, 100-year-old power grid was not built with remote, intermittent and decentralized power sources in mind. As grids adapt, grow and are upgraded, and as distributed generation and storage increasingly take hold, grids will leverage the interconnectivity revolution, making them more adaptable and better able to accommodate new, clean technologies. Stranded resources will no longer be stranded, and the grid of the future will be a substantial contributor in the demand for wind power.

Wind energy is still young and its potential is powerful. Harnessing the right technology, tools and partners, our industry will drive down cost in the maximum possible way. That’s progress I encourage, and it’s why my company has partnered with Uptake to harness the wind industry’s data potential. The next revolution in energy design is here, and bringing simplicity to our complex data to drive action will be the underlying theme that positions wind energy for its greatest profitability and growth.