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GE unveils digital project design tool

UNITED STATES: GE has launched a digital tool to help design projects using holograms and allow turbines to communicate with each other, boosting project output.

GE has launched a digital design and operational wind farm programme, with holograms
GE has launched a digital design and operational wind farm programme, with holograms

The GE Digital Wind Farm, launched at the AWEA Windpower 2015 event, is a novel approach to wind farm design and operation, aimed at projects of 50MW and larger in markets such as the US, Brazil and India.

It will use so-called "Digital Twin holograms" to simulate the wind project so that design and operation can be enhanced and problems can be resolved effectively. Sensors will monitor performance and relay information from and between each turbine.

The completed wind farm can produce energy by up to 20% annually compared with GE's existing technology, said the company's head of renewables, Anne McEntee.

"This is the future of wind technology," she told Windpower Monthly. "We need to start thinking of our solution at the wind farm level rather than optimising the turbine alone."

The "Digital Wind Farm" will use a new 2MW modular turbine design, with tower heights of 80 metres or 94 metres, rotor heights of 107 metres or 116 metres, and a generator of 2-2.4MW. Ultimately, the space frame tower could be used.

Maintenance for each turbine is the same, and spare parts are interchangeable.

The modular turbines will be coupled with an operating system called "Predix" and the company's already-released PowerUp software platform.

Different apps can be used with Predix to improve operations, for example telling an operator on which day a specific wind turbine needs maintenance and which spare parts will be needed. Turbines in different parts of the project can share data with each other to optimise performance.

According to GE the new concept could generate up to $50bn in value for the wind industry. GE is in talks with wind developer Invenergy about the product, McEntee added.

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