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Under performing Wind plants can be optimised to give better outputs

Daniel has been working with Romax for over a decade in formulating some of the unique technologies and processes that have made Romax a global brand within its industry vertical. Before this, Daniel worked in the technology sectors, solving problems in industries, such as telecommunication and investment banking.

1. What is the expected increase in profitability of a wind project using your design and simulation services?

Our customers worldwide have reported 2-3% increase in WTG availability by using our technology; some have moreover reported as much as 10% of increase in WTG availability. The performance of WTG is linked with WTG condition and questionable maintenance practices, and that is exactly where our technology comes into picture.

What we contribute to a wind project will be most visible to the wind park owner during the operation and maintenance of their wind park, particularly when the strong vertical integration that we see in the Indian market has somewhat loosened, and we are able to contribute services into the value chain.

To put it simply - the services that we have historically providing to the WTG OEM's; is what we are providing to the wind park owners now.

2. In India where price is always a prime concern, what is your strategy to tap the market?

The wind industry is focused on the project development phases of the wind park, and all the issues surrounding development and it's financing. However, the increasing demand for green energy has encouraged local OEMs and IPP's to scale up their strategies, and focus more on efficiency, deliverable ROI. The emphasis of the Indian industry has moved from incentives based on AD and CAPEX, to power production tariffs and OPEX. This is where Romax comes into play.

We focus on what happens after the wind park is built and operating.We have in-depth knowledge and understanding about WTG, its operations and maintenance. A true entrepreneur will think long term and price will never drive the decision.The economics of power purchase is easy to understand: an increase in electricity production is directly converted to top-line revenue. If your OPEX is more or less constant, then any improvement to the top-line drop straight onto the bottom-line. Even a smaller percentage increase in power production is significant in this context.

Long term, our technology is scalable, and we intend to roll out the capabilities that we have in our European HQ to our local Indian operation, and this will also help in making our offering cost competitive. We already are doing this with our North American operation.

3. What is the payback period for your products and services? Does Indian developer look for lesser period than their European counterparts?

We have some techniques that require zero CAPEX, and involve mining diagnostic nuggets out of production and operational data (i.e. WTG SCADA data). You'd be surprised how powerful these techniques can be, particularly in the hands of a well-trained analyst. In this case there is instant payback, provided of course that the WTG owners have already invested in SCADA systems.

4. What is the biggest mistake wind developers make during development and operations? How do Romax services help to avoid these mistakes?

Ultimately we are all interested in the lifetime average total cost of producing a unit of energy, ie. CoE. It is well known in the industry that decreasing OPEX has a marginal impact of CoE, increasing WTG availability can have a huge impact on CoE.

Another issue is the reliance on contractual assurances of WTG availability. There is much more to increasing power production than meeting availability targets. Moreover, we have never heard of anybody who has successfully claimed against a contractual availability guarantee or a production guarantee, even though we know that often turbines are under performing. It is much more effective to spend your money on engineers to increase your energy production, rather than on lawyers to sue your service providers!

5. How effective is TCM for already installed turbines. Does it take care of local environmental conditions like in India.

Our condition monitoring system (Romax IDS - Intelligent Diagnostic System) is often retro fitted in existing WTG's.

The conditions that are special to India are a very pronounced windy season, and frequent grid faults. The pronounced windy season means that it is extremely important for the WTG's to be available during that period, and that means preemptive techniques, such as condition monitoring, which aim to allow the fixing of fault during low wind periods, are extremely important.

As for frequent grid faults, this puts a huge amount of stress on the WTG drive-train, and is one of the main causes of failure of drive-train components, i.e. main bearings, gearbox and generator, and these are the components that are focused of condition monitoring.

6. Is there any special requirement of design and simulation for off-shore wind turbines?

The cost of offshore installations is dominated by the cost of the BOP, i.e. the foundations. Because offshore turbines are bigger, and big turbines have their own design issues,it becomes a lot more difficult to use standard parts on turbines that are over 5MW in capacity, and hence the job of the designer becomes more challenging. Moreover, the modular drive-train architecture, which has served us so well for so many years, faces new challenges. In large WTG some of which have caused designers to examine different architectures, such as medium speed. When faced with new architectures, where we cannot rely on existing experience, having accurate simulation technology becomes critical to success.

7. Any plans to enter the development segment as IPP.

Romax does not have any ambitions to become a wind farm developer or IPP. Our mission is to assist the wind industry and individual players to produce electricity, cost effectively.