28 Apr 2022
28 Apr 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal WES.

Grand Challenges in the Digitalisation of Wind Energy

Andrew Clifton1,, Sarah Barber2,, Andrew Bray3,, Peter Enevoldsen4,, Jason Fields5,, Anna Maria Sempreviva6,, Lindy Williams7,, Julian Quick8, Mike Purdue9, Philip Totaro10, and Yu Ding11 Andrew Clifton et al.
  • 1Stuttgart Wind Energy at the Institute of Aircraft Design, University of Stuttgart, Germany
  • 2Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences, Oberseestrasse 10, 8640 Rapperswil, Switzerland
  • 3MXV Ventures, Oakland, California, USA
  • 4Centre for Energy Technologies, Aarhus University, Denmark
  • 5National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO, USA
  • 6Technical University of Denmark, DTU. Department of Wind Energy Risø Campus Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
  • 7National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO, USA
  • 8University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 9NRG Sytems, Hinesburg, VT, USA
  • 10IntelStor LLC, Houston, TX, USA
  • 11Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX, USA
  • These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. The availability of large amounts of data is starting to impact how the wind energy community works. From turbine design to plant layout, construction, commissioning, and maintenance and operations, new processes and business models are springing up. This is the process of digitalisation, and it promises improved efficiency and greater insight, ultimately leading to increased energy capture and significant savings for wind plant operators, thus reducing the levelized cost of energy. Digitalisation is also impacting research, where it is both easing and speeding up collaboration, as well as making research results more accessible. This is the basis for innovations that can be taken up by end users. But digitalisation faces barriers. This paper uses a literature survey and the results from an expert elicitation to identify three common industry-wide barriers to the digitalisation of wind energy. Comparison with other networked industries and past and ongoing initiatives to foster digitalisation show that these barriers can only be overcome by wide-reaching strategic efforts, and so we see these as "Grand Challenges" in the digitalisation of wind energy. They are, first, the need to create reusable data frameworks; secondly, the need to connect people to data to foster innovation; and finally, the need to enable collaboration and competition between organisations. The Grand Challenges thus include a mix of technical and cultural aspects that will need collaboration between businesses, academia, and government to solve. Working to mitigate them is the beginning of a dynamic process that will position wind energy as an essential part of a global clean energy future.

Andrew Clifton et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on wes-2022-29', Jethro Browell, 02 Aug 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on wes-2022-29', Anonymous Referee #2, 18 Dec 2022

Andrew Clifton et al.

Andrew Clifton et al.


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Short summary
Wind energy creates huge amounts of data, which can be used to improve plant design, raise efficiency, reduce operating costs, and ease integration. These all contribute to cheaper and more predictable energy from wind. But realising the value from data requires a digital transformation that brings challenges around data, culture, and coopetition. This paper describes potential ways that the wind energy industry could work with R&D organisations, funding agencies and others to overcome them.