By Matteo Moreau and Sabrina Boissinot - 16/03/2023
ENGIE is a leader in decarbonization and energy efficiency for public authorities, companies and private citizens. 3,400 employees and 60 offices throughout Italy working across the entire energy industry: from production to the sale of energy, energy management, and solutions and services for achieving efficiency. The partner of over a million families in Italy for the supply of energy and services, ENGIE is a key player in the transition of the energy sector towards a carbon-neutral economy.
Ludovico Terzi (LT), Technical asset performance and analysis manager of the Renewable Energies & Storage business unit at Engie Italia:
The risks mainly involve the blades and in particular structural damage, especially when the turbines are located in mountainous terrain or on hilltops. If the farm is not designed with the necessary safety precautions, there is also a risk of damage to the electrical components. In Italy, as in other European countries, business plans take into account the presence and impact of storms, which demonstrates the fact that the dangers are real.
Have you experienced storms this year that have had direct or indirect effects on your farms?
LT: Some of our turbines were struck by lightning. First and foremost, the services operated by Métérorage notify us in good time, and we are able to send teams of engineers promptly to check the turbines in the affected areas.
You have recently begun using our real-time solution: the lightning alert. What are the advantages for your activity?
LT: The lightning alert is interesting and very useful. The fact of being able to anticipate the storm event is a real advantage in optimizing working activities and in particular for ensuring the safety of our personnel.
When there is a storm event in the area of a farm, what happens within the operating team after they receive the warning notification?
LT: The area manager receives the warning in real time and passes it on to the operators in the field. The second phase involves checking the plant by making a visual inspection of the turbine.
You also have access to the time-delayed remote lightning counter, which provides a detailed report on storm activity observed in the area of a farm during the previous day. Can you explain how it helps you, in particular when there are one or more lightning strikes near a turbine?
LT: The remote lightning event counter service is very useful, especially in connection with insurance claims. At operational level, we use it to cross-check the data it provides against the Blade Inspection Report: this phase helps us establish an order of priority for repairs. This offers a double benefit: firstly we can optimize planning and budgets, and secondly the maps of the remote lightning counter show us which areas have suffered the most lightning strikes, so we can monitor asset performance. We had a case of a wind turbine blade which had an efficiency level below the theoretical level; it was monitored because it was operating in an area subject to storm events and in fact the blade was damaged.
What are the practical operational advantages of this post-storm recording device, in particular during inspection and maintenance operations? And in terms of energy efficiency?
LT: There are two kinds of advantage. The reduction or limitation of losses, resulting in greater production, and the guarantee of an acceptable asset service life.
In your view, what are the short- and medium-term prospects for the wind power sector in Italy?
LT: The next few years will bring high growth, both onshore and offshore, and repowering. There will also be extensive optimization of maintenance activities (internal and external).
How METEORAGE helps ENGIE Italia to mitigate the lightning risk in wind farm operations?
© Xavier Delorme