Digital Twin Technology Test by Ramboll at Wikinger Wind Farm Shows Promise

‘True Digital Twin’ program creates a data-driven clone of wind structures which can be used to assess structural health and aid lifecycle management 

Ramboll’s revolutionary remote monitoring technology has illuminated new data findings which could help offshore wind farm operators to significantly increase the lifetime of their structures. Structural health monitoring systems, cloud computing and advanced mathematical calculations simulate a ‘digital twin’ of the wind turbine being assessed, allowing a dynamic narrative of the structure’s health to emerge.

In a pilot-test, Ramboll’s monitoring technology was used to measure the structural health of wind turbines at Iberdrola’s 350MW offshore wind farm, ‘Wikinger’ on the Baltic Sea. With the help of cost-effective sensors, data was collected on various internal and external parameters such as acceleration and patterns of movements from all locations of the structure. This data was then used in algorithmic calculations to assess damage, displacement, stresses and structural integrity issues.

Ursula Smolka, the leading engineer consultant of ‘True Digital Twin’ said: “Our goal with this project is to demonstrate the feasibility and impact of data-driven O&M strategies by having the True Digital Twin continuously deliver instantaneous insights on the physics of the assets that are being monitored. The results… [reveal] significant potential for lifetime extension and cost reductions in operating and maintaining offshore wind structures.”

‘True Digital Twin’ technology also offers wind farm manufacturers the ability to track structural health across time. Extensive simulation studies allow surveyors to track the history of exposure of each structure, allowing them to take preemptive steps towards repair or replacement. The biggest advantage is being able to conduct inspections remotely, which saves wind farm manufacturers valuable time and money. Mark Paine, offshore asset integrity manager at Iberdrola, said: “The benefits of the True Digital Twin are very clear to us, and this pilot test has now reinforced our initial expectations.”

This initiative was led by ROMEO, a project supported by the EU’s research program, Horizon 2020. Horizon 2020 is focused on boosting energy transition and reducing costs of offshore wind energy.