Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Emerson applies machine learning to optimise wind farms

Steve Rogerson
May 23, 2019



Emerson has formed an alliance with California-based Vayu to provide automation technology for wind farm energy optimisation in the Americas, Caribbean and Europe. The three-year collaboration combines the applications and networking capabilities of Missouri-based Emerson’s Ovation automation platform with Vayu’s cloud-computing wind energy optimisation technology.
 
Using this approach, Vayu has identified more than $500m in revenue opportunities from just a fraction of the approximately 450 wind farms in the USA.
 
“Combining the respective strengths of Emerson and Vayu creates a first-of-its-kind, intelligent solution for wind farm optimisation,” said Bob Yeager, president of Emerson’s power and water business. “This initiative will help wind energy producers maximise their aggregate power output, achieve their financial objectives and deliver more clean power to their communities.”
 
The wind power market continues to grow: 53.9GW was added in 2018, bringing the overall capacity of all wind turbines installed worldwide to 600GW, according to the World Wind Energy Association. The USA – the second-largest wind power market – added 7.6GW last year.
 
Beyond the additional revenue from megawatt production, the technology from Vayu and Emerson can also help US wind farm owners take advantage of federal production tax credits awarded for increasing electricity output of existing wind turbines.
 
“Instead of embarking on full-scale repowering projects that can cost millions, wind farm owners can make a small investment in this integration to boost power production and qualify for the tax credit,” said Vayu CEO Jim Kiles. 
 
In traditional wind farms, each turbine is individually optimised. Each creates its own turbulence, or wake, which prevents downwind turbines from receiving full energy from the wind stream, significantly reducing wind energy production. Vayu estimates two-thirds of US wind farms experience reduced capacity due to wind wake. Emerson and Vayu’s technology leverages key data and machine learning to enable turbines to work cooperatively, adjusting the side-to-side movement of each turbine based on wind speed, wind direction and other parameters to extract the optimum energy from the wind.
 
The Ovation compact controller will communicate data from each turbine’s wind sensor to the Vayu system every one to two seconds, which is much faster than the ten minutes typically required to perform this function when using traditional equipment. This near-real-time data enable a more accurate calculation of the optimum setting for each turbine.
 
Ovation compact control technology was designed for renewables and other highly distributed energy applications and can interface with any turbine controller regardless of manufacturer, eliminating the time and expense associated with removing and replacing existing turbine controls.
 
Vayu is a cloud computing optimisation service that can increase wind farm energy production using machine learning principles. It applies physics-based algorithms against unpredictable wind data, locally and globally, to identify cooperative action among multiple wind turbines, diminishing risk from turbulence while increasing power production. Vayu, a Ystrategies company, is based in San Francisco with offices in Pittsburgh and Houston.