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Wind farm system excels at remote monitoring and control

08 February 2010

New ethernet technology is being utilised by a wind power generating company to better maintain and control their installations. The company is an innovator in wind technology and a driving force in the development of the wind power industry, with installations all over the world.

Wind farm system excels at remote monitoring and control
Wind farm system excels at remote monitoring and control

The customer has developed numerous "wind farm" sites and relies on the benefits of efficient and reliable networks bring to management and control of the installations. Individual projects can range in scale from a few windmills, to hundreds of windmills, and can spread out over long distances. For long distance monitoring, centralised control and harsh environment operating capability, the company needs the most reliable network to support its projects. The windmill manufacturer also develops a long-term relationship with its customers, maintaining installations for the life of the project, which can run for more than 20 years. This means they must provide strong global service and prefer using the most reliable products in the industry.

This particular application involved more than 80 windmills spread out to form the windmill farm. At the top of each windmill is a turbine drive train with an adjustable blade that typically turns at 10 to 15 RPM. The blades’ pitch can be changed to allow the windmill to adjust for different wind conditions. The blade shaft connects to a gearbox inside the housing, which steps up the shaft rotation to around 1500 RPM and turns a generator. Each windmill has a control box comprised of an Industrial PC and PLC enclosed in the top of the windmill in the housing. Sensors for wind speed, wind direction, shaft rotation speed, and numerous other items collect data and transfer it to the PLC. By detecting the wind's direction, the control system can use a motorised yaw gear to turn the entire wind turbine into the proper direction of the wind to maximise power generation.

All wind turbines are connected to a Local Area Network, with each windmill's control box using Ethernet to link to the base of the tower, where a fibre-based, redundant ring LAN connection is available. The LAN is connected to a remote control station running the SCADA and control systems, which help analyse the data collected, adjust the windmill settings and provides intelligent alarm capability to operations and maintenance personnel. For the Ethernet network between the wind turbines and control centre, the customer chose several Moxa solutions.

For each windmill, a Moxa EDS-305-M-SC unmanaged switch converts the copper Ethernet from the control box to multimode fibre, an IMC-101-M-SC media converter converts the multimode fibre from the top of the windmill to copper, and at the base of windmill, an EDS-508-MM-SC 8-port managed Ethernet switch connects to other EDS-508-MM-SC switches to form the redundant LAN fibre backbone to support communication between windmills. The redundant ring topology connects individual windmills for added reliability and to save on cabling cost. All these Moxa products feature the long MTBF, high reliability and performance the customer needs to effectively maintain their systems. Moxa's wide product range and global support help ensure product compatibility, after sales service and future upgrade support.

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