Wind energy and many other users of wind lidar are going digital, leveraging decades of developments in programming, more reliable communications, and the internet of things. This digital transformation will lead to new ways of working, new opportunities, and new business ideas. But it will also mean that wind lidar will change as well. Together, the wind energy industry and wind lidar will undergo digitalisation.
This workshop used a combination of presentations, group work, and discussions to explore what digitalisation might mean for wind lidar hardware, software, users, and stakeholders.
The group worked on several pre-defined scenarios, including wind resource assessment, lidar-assisted control of wind turbines, forecasting for offshore wind parks, and lidar systems providers.
Priorities for R&D
The following were seen as priorities to enable the digitalisation of wind lidar:
- Data standards were required to enable wind lidar to be used for wind resource assessment, forecasting, wind plant controls, and to enable flexible, modular lidar.
- Data flows to simplify data transfer from lidar devices to other devices and to users. This would be easier with data standards.
- A common and modular lidar interface to enable data input and output, and control of the wind lidar.
- Faster tools that can be used as part of wind lidar-based processes, e.g., for energy forecasting.
- Energy market flexibility to allow new business models based on faster reaction times or greater flexibility, e.g., 5- to 10-minute-scale energy forecasting.
- Economic models for different applications that demonstrate the economic case for investing in lidar.
The results from this workshop are similar to those seen for studies of digitalisation in other areas of the wind energy industry. They include:
- Digitalisation happens from the bottom up when users try to automate or reuse old processes, or to share them with colleagues. This can lead to competing, incompatible activities. We may be able to avoid this for wind lidar by leveraging common data formats at different parts of the process, for example the e-windLidar formats.
- Digitalisation can also be top-down, for example by tasking internal teams or by buying in services. This can lead to an adoption problem, that can be avoided by working together with users to create the tools they need, and train them to use them.
- However it happens, digitalisation needs to be treated as an important (or even strategic) change that can heavily impact users.
- Like many businesses, the wind lidar business will become modular. Users will increasingly create their own processes based on a mixture of hardware and software tools.
- Service providers – hardware vendors, consultants, researchers – therefore need to work on simplifying the interfaces between their parts of the process.
- Standards will help with many aspects of digitalisation, as would data and app marketplaces.
- None of this will happen without management support and encouragement.
- We need ways to talk about the costs and benefits of digitalisation.
A future “digitalisation” working group
IEA Wind Task 32 will be convening a working group to make progress on some of these issues. Please get in contact if you would like to take part.