The wind energy industry is at a crossroads. With 40 to 80 gigawatts of wind capacity reaching the end of its designed operational life in the next decade according to WindEurope, lifetime extension is a top priority and wind energy data will play a big role in accomplishing this task.
But equally, and perhaps more excitingly, there is a huge opportunity for greater synergy between wind energy and other parts of the energy ecosystem. Storage, demand management, electric vehicles, smart homes – a series of yet undeveloped opportunities where wind energy data will play a pivotal role and ultimately open up new, unknown horizons for business.
Data in the wind energy sector is ubiquitous; from armies of sensors across the value chain to data sources from design, siting, logistics, manufacturing and operations. Walking the walk is no longer simply about technical excellence. Instead, today’s challenge will undoubtedly look familiar: How do we turn wind energy data into value? And what does this value look like to businesses in wind? It could be cost reductions, greater annual energy production, new business models, interoperable products, market development, and many more.
The answer? It’s about building flexible partnerships to extract as much value as possible out of the wind energy data ecosystem. At this stage, the ecosystem is a bit of an organised chaos: with new digital initiatives, platforms, start-ups and services announced almost every week, the classical company-university-research centre model no longer exists.
From the ashes of an incumbent industry, the wind energy data ecosystem is evolving into new communities of startups, developers and coders with new dynamics, methodologies and a high proportion of millennials. While dynamism springs from all kind of players: Universities, PhD students, entrepreneurs and small to medium enterprises, integrating these highly innovative catalysts into more conventional businesses is a challenge in itself. It requires an open-minded approach.
To gain first mover advantage in this ongoing chess game, players must keep their gaze firmly fixed on the ever-evolving landscape of wind energy data and be ready to capitalise on the best developments. In this new world, innovative, collaborative models, smart IP rules and management, adapted merger and acquisitions strategies and, at the core, effective ways of scouting and sourcing talent: people, ideas and competencies are all key.
Scouting and sourcing talent, along with developing unique, potentially even revolutionary ideas and competencies, brings us round to why we hosted Hack the Wind 2018. For 48 hours, we brought together the brightest designers, developers, data scientists, analysts and blockchain developers to foster collaborative innovations in wind energy data that will advance the wind industry; and it was our pleasure to announce that Alpha-I and Power2U hacked their way to a share of the €20,000 prize.
The event is the ecosystem in a nutshell, a hotbed for innovation where collaboration is critical in developing the most implementable solution and winning. But even those solutions that didn’t win may still revolutionise how the wind industry operates, cooperates and progresses. Wind energy data is the star of the show, but it’s also about how business, technology and data analytics mesh together to create paths to business success.
Renewable Energy Technology Officer