How to empower India’s wind operators

17 August 2022

The Indian wind industry’s independent power producers (IPPs) need to seize digitalisation to empower their decision making with independent, reliable, and strategically-led O&M technology. This is according to bp/Castrol joint venture Onyx Insight, a data analytics and engineering consultancy for the global wind industry with offices across APAC.

Above: Wind power in India

In India, a continual focus on acquiring assets that come with maintenance packages has led to limitations on the industry reaching its potential, argues Onyx. Research suggests that average O&M costs account for 60% of wind farm operating expenses, and in India percentage is higher. Instead of being able to take ownership of their own O&M workflow, many owner-operators are relying on the often-inconsistent fulfilment of OEM maintenance obligations to ensure asset longevity.

OEM servicing in India is not always fully reliable, notes Onyx, compounded by a low supply of spare parts and a lack of asset health insights, leaving the wind industry underserviced and inefficient. This is leading IPPs to look for an alternative to regain independence and become empowered to develop their own operations and maintenance strategies, the company says.

“Digitalisation is that alternative”, says Sharath Prabhakaran, business development manager for Onyx Insight in India. “A lack of digital technology hinders an operator’s ability to deal with a whole host of challenges. With no immediate visibility of asset health and no means of issue forecasting, minor faults that go undetected can silently worsen, causing catastrophic failures and significant downtime later on. Addressing problems only once they are at their most urgent drains time and resources, with clunky case management systems caught between data silos creating further barriers to efficiency.”

Some 62% of wind industry stakeholders believe that access to data is the biggest barrier to digital advancement. But by harnessing digital solutions and taking ownership of their own maintenance, operators can reduce downtime and unplanned repairs for up to 10 years and reduce their levelised cost of energy by up to 12%.

Digital solutions enable fleet-wide asset condition to be monitored and predictive maintenance to be applied. Workflows can be streamlined to assign priority and severity to individual cases and enable smoother communication between servicing teams.

With so much potential left to tap into, Indian IPPs “must put their best foot forward”, says Onyx, and build on prior learning to avoid the mistakes made on the global community’s, and India’s, journey to fully-fledged wind energy reliance. Forward-looking technological investment can and will accelerate India’s growth much closer to the levels seen on the global stage.

Onyx Insight says condition monitoring systems like its ecoCMS can provide asset health analytics to help identify specific problems and allow the right maintenance solutions to be implemented, at the right time. This, coupled with fleet management software like Onyx Insight’s AI HUB, makes it far easier to target inspection and replacement operations, and schedule them when wind resource is low to minimise any losses to production and profitability.

By making use of digital solutions in this way, India’s burgeoning wind industry can empower itself with the confidence to move to self-operation and self-monitoring, and drastically increase returns, Onyx Insight believes and “digitalisation can help put the ‘I’ back into ‘IPP’.”

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