A new report by DNV GL, ‘Digitalization and the Future of the Wind Energy Industry’ describes how digitalization is playing a major role in the growth of wind energy. It will continue to drive further improvements in operational efficiency, decision-making and cost efficiency, but only if concerns around data sharing can be overcome.
The findings of the report are based on a survey of almost 2000 engineers and senior executives from across the energy sector, assessing the current progress of digitalization and identifying the top priorities for and barriers to further growth.
The wind industry is expected to become an ever-greater contributor to the world’s future energy mix, with a forecasted 15-fold escalation in wind-powered generation from 1.1 PWh in 2018 to 17 PWh in 2050.
In terms of installed electricity generation capacity, the amount of wind energy will increase more than 8 times by 2050 to 5 TW globally.
Digital technologies have been one of the key reasons behind wind power’s growth to date and will be vital in achieving the wind energy industry’s ambitious future growth targets.
The industry considers improving operational efficiency (identified by 52 per cent of respondents), decision making (42 per cent) and cost efficiency (40 per cent) as the top priorities for further digitalization.
However, the benefits of digitalization could be threatened by issues over sharing data and limited willingness to provide more transparency. Such doubts are particularly felt in the offshore sector where concerns over data sharing (37 per cent of respondents) and inability to access data (25 per cent) were cited as the biggest barriers to further digitalization.
Other potential barriers identified include digital skills gaps within the industry and organizations focusing on other priorities.
“The wind industry already uses vast amounts of data to improve performance, for example exploiting wind farm SCADA data to enable a predictive approach by anticipating faults and planning maintenance in order to ensure greater up-time,” said Lucy Craig, vice president of technology and innovation at DNV GL – Energy. “However, this increased reliance on data brings new challenges and the wind industry faces conflicting priorities when it comes to data sharing. While the benefits to sharing are clear, there is also an essential requirement to protect competitive advantage and intellectual property. Finding the balance will allow the wind industry to unlock a bright digital future.”