Investment funds demand ‘actionable insights’ to improve AEP

Fund managers have expressed that they want their wind plant analysis to be utilized for plant performance improvement.

Leading wind energy investors said it is crucial that wind turbine data analysis providers are able to use any insights gained to implement fixes that improve annual energy production (AEP).

Speaking at a webinar on improving wind energy revenue, fund managers from Greencoat Capital and Cubico emphasized that data analysis alone is not enough for investors and that true value is derived from “converting the outcome of that analysis into action”.  

What investors want

What investors find particularly appealing is a software provider that doesn't only identify issues that adversely affect wind plant AEP. The provider should use the insights gained to implement solutions and fixes that improve performance and increase revenues. 

Jack Marriott, head of performance management at renewable energy investor Cubico said that investors are looking for a data analysis service, rather than simply a software package. “We don’t want login details for an online portal – that’s a standard ‘off-the-shelf’ deliverable,” he said. “Ultimately, the value you’re going to get from that analysis often depends on the level of engagement with the service provider, not just through the systems but directly with our central performance team, and ultimately with our asset management teams and even OEMs directly.”

Investors need fixes as well as analysis

The ideal scenario for wind plant owners and operators is having a data analysis provider that goes one step beyond mere analysis by using the results and findings to propose solutions that will fix AEP deficiencies.

Martin Stanyon, wind technical asset manager at Octopus Energy, said that when choosing a data analysis service, the technical competence of asset managers was a key consideration. But, it was “not just about having an asset manager who's going to be your customer contact – it's having engineers sitting behind them who look at the data and look at the technical issues affecting my portfolio, and have the expertise and experience to be able to come back to me with solutions.” 

Technology providers must have an industry track record

Having technology partners with a track record in the wind sector is also a priority for wind plant owners and operators.

Tata Power’s wind operations chief Rajiv Samant said that when his organization is seeking technology partners, it first looks for an organization that has previous experience in the wind energy sector. “Secondly, we would like to know whether the partner is genuinely technology savvy, or only following a trend,” he adds. Samant also says that Tata Power wants its partners to use information from data to make improvements and get involved in horizontal deployment.

Investors want a ‘full-service’ technology provider

Investors also favor technology providers that are able to provide a full-service, end-to-end solution to their AEP problems.

While generally speaking, Rémy Verot, European construction and asset manager at Greencoat Capital said his company is looking for service providers that agree to its level of standards when it comes to process. “We will try to avoid having too many service providers across the same country. So, it's good where possible to try and scale with a couple of service providers,” he says. “So that's also trying to build the relationship.”

Get proactive rather than simply ‘fire-fighting’

What is really attractive to investors is technology that not only fixes problems but also improves AEP at wind plants that already have a high level of performance. 

Chris Ford, COO at renewable energy generation company Lekela said while many wind plant owners and operators spend a lot of time “fire-fighting,” there are some technologies that allow you to be “more proactive.”

He added: “You can be more proactive with your service providers and with your own teams – you can push things rather than be on the defensive.” Ford said such technologies can add “significant value to our organization in that we’re getting ahead of things before they become problems, while also making the best of what we’ve got today.”