Renewables Control Centre – Development, Design and Delivery
Through a phased project delivery process, the control centre was designed, established and later expanded to bring it in line with business growth strategies and to enhance performance and value: Ultimately enabling a major renewable utility with 750MW of generation plant across 30 sites to get closer to its assets and manage all activities in real-time.
The project included the specification of software and hardware systems, ranging from control systems through to logging and vehicle tracking, with a focus on managing the health and safety, technical and commercial aspects that impacted the wind farm asset portfolio.
The health and safety aspects included managing hundreds of visits every week by ensuring the staff were authorised and permitted to complete the works under WTSR, monitoring weather and providing both short-term (in-day) and long-term (3 to 14 days) forecasting in addition to warnings for extreme conditions that would endanger personnel on site, and making sure people leave site safely to return home; this all being logged with daily activities and emergency contacts and procedures.
Technical management of the plant included remote monitoring and resetting of turbines considerably quicker than OEM service providers in the post-warranty period, remote operation of the plant in preparation for works to reduce the risks faced from undertaking this locally, and condition monitoring and fault recording so that faults and failures are highlighted and diagnosed as quickly as possible and repair costs minimised.
Commercial aspects included interactions with National Grid for operation of plant within the balancing mechanism and for ancillary services to meet grid balancing needs and meeting the requirements for shared data and provide breakdown details to meet REMIT regulations.
Within the scope of the project we covered all aspects of designing, building and operating the control centre, including shift patterns and staffing levels, training and authorisation panels, key process mapping, operational procedures and full business continuity plans. Within the first two years it exceeded £1m per annum additional group income and significantly reduced plant downtime.