To analyze the performance of renewable energy plants coming from different manufacturers, non-proprietary software is needed. With the help of an independent software tool for monitoring and analysis of different plant types, the Juwi group could improve its plant management and increase efficiency – a case study.
Founded in Wörrstadt, Germany, in 1996, Juwi designs and manages renewable energy projects from inception to implementation and offers post-implementation asset monitoring services. Today, the company manages approximately 2,300 systems worldwide. As Juwi’s portfolio of assets grew, so did the complexities of integrating and managing them. With the number of individual software applications needed to manage its assets growing and new asset integration becoming more difficult, Juwi decided to simplify operations by implementing the PI System from OSIsoft as its unified monitoring solution.
“The PI System is the base of our operations so it is very important. It’s the underlying structure. It’s like a big building – you take away the foundation and you wouldn’t like to know what happens to the building,” explains Dr. Thomas Weiss, Manager Control Room Operations at Juwi.
No standardized format, but spreadsheet chaos instead
Juwi was founded in 1996 as a two-man company to build a wind turbine. Today, Juwi employs over 1,000 people and the company manages wind and solar assets globally from inception to operation. “We offer the whole portfolio,” says Dr. Thomas Weiss, Manager Control Room Operations at Juwi. “We look for a piece of land, get the necessary permissions, get the building contracts, complete whatever paperwork is necessary – when everything is together (even the money) we offer the project to somebody. Our clients are very diverse it can be a community who wants to change its way of getting energy, an individual, or an insurance company, a fund, or a bank. We develop the idea from scratch to operation.”
The renewables sector is still a young industry and standardization is limited. Typically, each turbine manufacturer provides software for monitoring its assets. However this software does not integrate across assets from different vendors. As Juwi’s portfolio of assets grew, it became increasing difficult to integrate and monitor assets and standardize reports. “Just in the control room we had 24 pieces of software.” says Weiss. “There was no way to make one report from two different IT systems end up in one decent report. We were the masters of Excel sheets but it always ended in a mess because the figures were not always the same. For the same problem we had several different answers.”
One system for all plants
In 2012, Juwi began looking for a software vendor who could provide an integrated software solution for monitoring all of its renewable assets. It was especially important that Juwi locate an off-the-shelf solution as a team of five individuals, working part-time around other responsibilities, would be responsible for implementing and managing the new system.
In late 2012, Juwi selected the PI System from OSIsoft as its data integration solution. “We felt that OSIsoft was industry proof, that is was a solid technology, that OSIsoft was big enough to survive difficult times, and we were quiet certain that regardless what the future may bring there will be an interface for it from OSIsoft.”
To simplify ongoing management and maintenance as well as standardize its calculations, Juwi extensively leveraged PI Asset Framework (PI AF) templates. “With the structures we have now, in a few hours a park can be connected to the PI System – the tags are set, the calculations are done, and usually the next morning the boss has the report on his table with the new parks in it. Before that would take us weeks.”
Faster data analysis and plant integration
The PI System has made it easier for Juwi to integrate new assets and shifted the way Juwi works with its data and monitors its assets. “Before we were happy at the end of the day if we could get the data from all sites in our box and all the turbines were running – it didn’t really matter how well they were running. Now the data is coming automatically and we’re starting to drill down into why things are not running well, going into a predictive view of things, and it makes things easier,” says Dr. Weiss.
Better data and better monitoring tools have changed Juwi’s relationship with its equipment manufacturers. “Most of our assets have double supervision, we supervise and the manufacturer does also. Usually they always knew things before we did and this has changed. Now we call them and say ‘Your turbine is not running’ they ask us ‘Since when?’ We say ‘Since 3 minutes ago’ and they say ‘How do you know?’ ‘Our system told us’,” says Weiss.
Communication with regulators got less complicated
It’s also changing Juwi’s relationship with regulators. Germany has very strict rules concerning the protection of animals especially bats and birds. These regulations cre ate complex rules regulations for when and in what conditions operators can run wind turbines and the operators have to show the government that they are abiding by those regulations. With the PI System in place, Juwi has not only been able to show the regulators that it’s complying with the regulations, it has been able to find ways to better meet the requirements. Juwi was able to negotiate with regulators to change some operating rules. “By being able to deliver a constant database it’s much easier to argue with officials about whether we should do things differently. It’s easier to get agreement between us and the regulators,” says Dr. Weiss. “And we can show our customers that we aren’t overdoing it.”
These changing dynamics have yielded tangible benefits for both Juwi and its customers. “Since we started implementing the project we’ve had an overall increase of efficiency of 1%. If you put that into money, it’s 2.6 million euros* in additional net income for our customers,” says Weiss. It’s also changed Juwi’s approach to its data. “In our company there was a strange feeling that there was no way we could handle that mass of data and this has changed. Now we are quiet certain that not only can we handle it but also we can drill down and benefit from it. The mindset has changed from being overwhelmed to having a good tool to drill down.”
Christoph Papenfuss, Regional Manager OSIsoft Europe for DACH/Denmark and Axel Mertins, Account Manager OSIsoft, Dr. Thomas Weiss, Division Manager Plant Monitoring at Juwi
* = approx. $ 2.86 million
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