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A simple software upgrade to boost wind power

Posting in Technology
If you're already the owner of a wind farm, innovations in technology for wind energy are great, but it often doesn't make financial sense to replace expensive turbines even if they do produce more energy.

That doesn't mean your older turbines can't be a little more productive. Late last year, GE developed a simple solution to help operators get the most out of its older, most popular, brand of wind turbine. About 12,000 of GE's 22,000 installed wind turbines are the 1.5 MW, 77 meter rotor model. 

They called it PowerUp. The main takeaway: It's software that can boost wind energy production by as much as five percent, without a bunch of added infrastructure. How does it work? As GE explains:

"[The software] performs a complete before and after wind farm power performance analysis, validating the performance improvement. By adjusting performance dials, including speed, torque, pitch, aerodynamics and turbine controls, PowerUp is able to improve the power output of each unit and the overall wind farm."

And in video form:

 
 

The company has already received some big orders. The PowerUp platform was installed last year at a wind farm of 469 wind turbines, as Clean Technia reports. And last week EDP Renewables announced it would adopt the technology on its 400+ turbine wind farms to boost production. 

Estimates from GE show that if the software were used on all of its installed 1.5-77 wind turbines, it could boost energy production by 420,000 megawatt hours, or the equivalent of 33,000 average U.S. homes, with just a one percent power boost. If they all get a five percent power boost it jumps to 165,000 homes.

For companies running wind farms, it's an extremely low-risk investment since GE is only paid by the wind farm based on how much extra power the farm produces. If it doesn't have an impact on the farm, it costs the farm nothing.

"GE's PowerUp software will allow us to improve the power curve and increase the annual energy production of these 402 wind turbines. At EDPR we like to be a leader in innovation and explore creative ways to make the most of our units and collaborating with GE has been a win-win for us," said Brian Hayes, executive vice president, EDP Renewables.

But GE's software isn't the only impressive innovation in wind technology. Here's some of the latest news on wind energy tech:




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Photo: Sisse Brimberg & Cotton Coulson

— By on February 11, 2014, 3:30 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure