With an open and high-performance real-time controller from Weidmüller based on two processor cores, plus an application-specific software library, Solutions 4 Energy GmbH is significantly speeding up the engineering and start-up processes for its wind turbines. A coordinated, modular and scalable visualisation solution including Cloud features makes operating wind turbines an absolute doddle.
Solutions 4 Energy GmbH, known as S4E for short, is an ambitious, innovative manufacturer and consultant operating in the renewable energies industry, particularly in the onshore and offshore wind power segment. “To make the installation and start-up of its wind power installations more efficient, S4E has entered into a strategic partnership with Weidmüller,” reports Thomas Schubert, the Managing Director of Solutions 4 Energy GmbH. The commitment includes all the automation technology, including two ready-to-use panels - one each for both the top and the bottom box. The panels are planned, assembled and tested at Weidmüller, so they are delivered ready for use.
“When we first entered into our partnership, we worked together to develop a comprehensive requirements catalogue which Weidmüller incorporated its solutions into,” adds Thomas Schubert.
The requirements catalogue formed the foundation for selecting our partner and its solutions:
“When we were working together to create the requirements catalogue, we were able to incorporate the experience we had acquired previously in numerous other projects,” explains Marc Liebert, Wind Industry Development Manager at Weidmüller.
Weidmüller’s PC-based controller as an open and individual solution
“A robust, high-performance controller with two processor cores, the RTLinux operating system for communication and visualisation tasks and eCos as a real-time operating system are the key components in the turbines. On the innovative controller, the IEC 61131 standard is responsible for deterministic processes - i.e. extremely short, precisely defined cycle times. The controller is ready for the IoT, and its architecture also enables the implementation of two “trusted zones”. “The system is designed to be robust and reliable for use in harsh operating conditions - it is capable of withstanding extreme cold, heat and vibrations,” continues Mr Liebert.
One of S4E’s requirements was that the simulation and regulatory models created had to be easy to transfer to the controller. Simulink was used as an engineering tool, as well as other solutions. It is a block diagram environment for multi-domain simulation. The tool supports the design and simulation processes at system level and enables automatic code generation as well as continuous system testing and verification. Simulink is integrated in MathWorks’ MATLAB platform, so MATLAB algorithms can be included in simulation models, analysed and further processed with ease. The MATLAB / Simulink models can be easily transferred to the Weidmüller controller, where they run in real time.
“We at Solutions 4 Energy rely on COPA-DATA’s zenon SCADA system, which features scalable functionality and performance, to manage operation of the wind farm. The system also supports the integration of controllers from different manufacturers and has all the necessary communication protocols such as IEC 61850 or IEC 61870. Data is accessed remotely via a secure VPN connection and/or using any Cloud solution,” explains Mr Liebert. In the example shown, Weidmüller uses the Microsoft Azure Cloud, in which zenon Runtime is installed and the visualisation of each and every installation is available worldwide. One key point in this regard during the system selection process was also free Cloud selection, so there would not be any dependency on any one manufacturer.
For wind turbine (WT) automation, Weidmüller offers a special Wind Library with ready-made functional modules, which cover around 80% of the functions of modern wind turbines. The available modules include those for the quick and easy implementation of system functions, pitch and nacelle control, tower functions, condition monitoring and a wide range of physical functions. The user can combine these modules with one another as they please, and if necessary they can even modify them and thereby individually adapt them to their own specific hardware or tasks. Protection of know-how is a given in this respect.
Even when it was using the Wind Library for the first time, Solutions 4 Energy was able to implement around 70% of the functions directly with modules from the library. The library was created by Solutions 4 Energy in line with procedural specifications. The remaining modules, meanwhile, were modified or re-programmed and implemented in close coordination with Weidmüller.
“We at Weidmüller have a very well-equipped application room for wind power automation solutions, where all the programmed functions are put to the test on real modules prior to delivery. Customers can therefore rest assured that the installation will work faultlessly during operation too,” explains Mr Liebert.
One essential requirement expected of the new solution was that it was to guarantee open communication to make it easy to connect components from different providers. This includes the safety controller carrying out reliable data exchange over PROFINET, for example. Additional expansions can be easily incorporated via the corresponding modules of the I/O system u-remote. Field devices such as wind speed and wind direction indicators, vibration sensors and the absolute value encoders for recording the position of the nacelle and the pitch system are connected to the u-remote modules provided for this purpose with ease and are thus integrated into the Weidmüller control system.
The panels in the nacelle and the tower base are connected to one another via switches. The switch in the tower base not only supplies the main controller with data, but also the SCADA system too. All communication between the components takes place via PROFINET and u-remote, and this is also true of a multifunctional measuring instrument from Bender which is located in the tower base. The measuring instrument records all the key electrical variables (currents, voltages, frequency, outputs, etc.) and transfers them to the SCADA system for evaluation and archiving purposes. A router with an integrated 3G/UMTS modem connects the wind turbine to the control room.
“We successfully implemented and connected our first joint project with the new automation solution as a team”, report Mr Schubert and Mr Liebert together. Solutions 4 Energy was able to successfully incorporate the know-how it had acquired and directly apply it to large parts of the project planning process. The library concept supported this process and enabled convenient, repeated use of the control or visualisation functions. New projects and other applications can be quickly and easily implemented by simply copying the library modules. “We are sure that there will be many more joint projects in the future,” says Thomas Schubert, Managing Director of Solutions 4 Energy GmbH.