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Vestas Case Study
VESTAS Wind Systems A/S based in Arhus, Denmark, is a global provider of sustainable energy solutions with more than 25,000 employees working toward a greener future. We spoke with Thorsten Schnieders – Lead WTG Support Engineer at VESTAS North & Central Europe, located in Rheine – about the first collaboration between this industry giant and FREQCON GmbH.
Which business areas is VESTAS most focused on?
To put it succinctly: We develop, manufacture, install and service wind turbines around the world. With a total of 117 gigawatts in 81 countries, we have installed more wind power than any other company.
What roles does technological innovation play here?
One of the most important roles, without a doubt, perhaps even the main role. As a leading company in the wind power industry, we are naturally always on the search for technological solutions to optimize our systems with regard to sustainability, efficiency and economy. We also focus heavily on the factors of work safety and reliability. When building new wind farms, we use the best technology available on the market. And for existing installations, VESTAS is always on the lookout for new optimization potential. This is essential if we are to maintain our world market leadership in the industry over the long term.
How did you learn about FREQCON?
That wasn’t hard. When you work in the field of alternative energy, you automatically know about FREQCON and their products. Just asking around any office in our industry will get you that much, and a simple internet search will do the rest. FREQCON is a specialist in the sector of renewable energy and has an outstanding international reputation.
And what about our specific collaboration? What was the problem to be solved?
It is well known that the safety components of wind turbines are frequently inspected by independent agencies and often even preventively replaced before they fail. Specifically, we were on the search for alternatives to the lead gel batteries that provide emergency braking for the pitch system. On older machines, we frequently encounter the problem that components for optimization are difficult or even impossible to come by. That was the case here. At least, until we hit upon the Pitch Retrofit solution from FREQCON.
How did the system installation go?
Tremendously well, thanks to the drop-in solution. Our service technicians were initially somewhat hesitant upon seeing a capacitor technology that was unfamiliar to them, but all reservations vanished after installing the prototype. The mechanical and electrical installation of the Pitch Retrofit components went perfectly smoothly without any significant complications. The light weight of the ultracap module, just eight kilograms, was naturally another factor in its favor. This was a pleasant bonus: Compared with the lead gel battery, we achieved a 50 percent weight reduction, which improves both work safety and ergonomics.
How have the ultracap modules performed in operation? Is VESTAS satisfied?
Yes, we are in fact extremely satisfied. The results of the long-term measurements on the test bench at the VESTAS site in Rheine as well as the values under real conditions after installation in the wind farm are all to our complete satisfaction and also very promising for the future. All modules installed so far are running efficiently and without problems.
What prospects does VESTAS see as a provider of maintenance services from use of the Pitch Retrofit products?
Because the ultracap modules are stored, transported, and installed in a discharged and short-circuited state, the working conditions are much safer for our technical personnel. Unlike conventional lead gel batteries, no trickle charging is required during storage. Not only are service and maintenance expenses during storage eliminated, there are also no storage limitations due to aging. Plus, the significantly longer service life – again, compared with lead gel batteries – minimizes service trips and material consumption in connection with faults in the emergency braking system. This is very much in line with our goal of sustainability.
What was your personal impression as well as the general impression at VESTAS regarding the collaboration with FREQCON?
We feel that we receive the best possible technical support and advice. This was true from the very first contact, in the ensuing talks and all the way to the prototype support. It did not take long. We speak the same language, agreements were worked out quickly, competently and reliably … Generally, a very pleasant and respectful working atmosphere. Our individual wishes and specifications, such as the separate discharging connector system, were implemented very professionally. We find FREQCON to be an innovative and reliable partner offering top-notch performance at a great price, which is why I would not recommend them to any of our competitors (said with a laugh).
27336 Rethem, GERMANY
Phone: +49 5165 291760 – 0
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Co. Roscommon, IRELAND
Phone: +353 83 0268111
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