Towards a More Robust Understanding of the Uncertainty of Wind Farm Reliability

  • Carsten H. Westergaard
  • Shawn B. Martin
  • Jonathan R. White
  • Charles M. Carter
  • Benjamin Karlson


Understanding wind farm reliability from various data sources is highly complex because the boundary conditions for the data are often undocumented and impact the outcome of aggregation significantly. Sandia National Laboratories has been investigating the reliability of wind farms through the Continuous Reliability Enhancement Wind (CREW) project since 2007 through the use of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) data from multiple wind farms in the fleet of the USA. However, data streaming from sample wind farms does not lead to better understanding as it is merely a generic status of those samples. Economic type benchmark studies are used in the industry, but these do not yield much technical understanding and give only a managerial cost perspective. Further, it is evident that there are many situations in which average benchmark data cannot be presented in a meaningful way due to discrete events, especially when the data is only based on smaller samples relative to the probability of the events and the sample size. The discrete events and insufficient descriptive tagging contribute significantly to the uncertainty of a fleet average and may even impair the way we communicate reliability. These aspects will be discussed. It is speculated that some aspects of reliability can be understood better through SCADA data-mining techniques and considering the real operating environment, as, it will be shown that there is no particular reason that two identical wind turbines in the same wind farm should have identical reliability performance. The operation and the actual environmental impact on the turbine level are major parameters in determining the remaining useful life. Methods to normalize historical data for future predictions need to be developed, both for discrete events and for general operational conditions.


Wind farms Reliability SCADA data Wakes Vibration 



This work is supported and made possible by the Department of Energy (DOE) Wind and Water Power Program. Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory managed and operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000. Wind farm SCADA data was provided by a strategic industrial partner.


  1. 1.
    R. Fares, Texas poised to integrate more wind, solar energy, (2016)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    R. Wiser, M. Bolinger, 2014 Wind technologies market report, Department of Energy (2015)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    P. Jamison, Innovation in Wind Turbine Design (Wiley, West Sussex, UK, 2011)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    J.F. Manwell, J.G. McGowan, A.L. Rogers, Wind Energy Explained: Theory, Design and Application (Wiley, 2009)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    V.A. Peters, A.B. Ogilvie, C.R. Bond, Continuous Reliability Enhancement for Wind (CREW) Database: Wind Plant Reliability Benchmark Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    W. Musial, S. Butterfield, B. McNiff, Improving wind Turbine Gearbox Reliability (National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2007)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    S.B. Martin, C.H. Westergaard, J.R. White, New wake effects identified using SCADA data analysis and visualization, in Proceedings of AWEA Wind Power Conference, Florida (2015)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    S.B. Martin, C.H. Westergaard, J.R. White, B. Karlson, Visualizing wind farm wakes using SCADA data. Sandia report (2016)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    C. Carter, B. Karlson, S. Martin, C.H. Westergaard, Continuous reliability enhancement for wind (CREW), Program Update. Sandia report (2016)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cannata, Lightning protection system (LPS), Presentation at Windpower Monthly Seminar: Blade Inspection Damage and Repair Forum, Hamburg (2014)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    D. Coffey, Blade Reliability case study, in Sandia Wind Turbine Blade Workshop, Albuquerque, New Mexico (2014)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    M. Nissim, Blade maintenance for reliability, an owner/operator perspective, in Sandia Wind Plant Reliability Workshop, Albuquerque, New Mexico (2013)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    M. Wilkinson, Measuring wind turbine reliability—results of the reliawind project, in Proceedings of EWEA, Brussels (2011)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    International Electrotechnical Commission, Wind Turbine Generator Systems—Part 24: Lightning Protection, IEC/TR 61400-24:2002(E)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carsten H. Westergaard
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shawn B. Martin
    • 2
  • Jonathan R. White
    • 2
  • Charles M. Carter
    • 2
  • Benjamin Karlson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  2. 2.Sandia National LaboratoriesAlbuquerqueUSA

Personalised recommendations