November 30, 2015 | by Rob Cole | Engineering + Technology, Wind Plant Optimization

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Renewable NRG Systems recently launched a series of retrofit turbine control sensor kits designed to enable our operator customers to deploy Hybrid XT Anemometers and Wind Vanes on their installed turbines pain-free. The inception of this idea, RNRG’s approach to providing the solution, underlines our company’s commitment to focusing our product development squarely on the needs of our customers as they strive to understand and make more renewable energy worldwide.

The Motivation

The Hybrid XT sensor line was introduced in 2011 as the next gen replacement of RNRG’s original Hybrid sensors. The sensor has steadily gained adoption in the years following, and it now has a loyal following among much of our customer base. As preference for the sensor grew, we increasingly received requests from operators that wanted to take advantage of the sensor’s deicing performance, short lead times, and the responsiveness of our sales and support groups. However, many customers were unable to make the switch because their turbine platforms had not flown Hybrid XT sensors in the past. 

There are several complications that can arise when a customer purchases a turbine control sensor and tries to install it on a turbine that it was not intended for: sensor outputs might not jive with the turbine’s controller; mounting stubs can be too narrow or too wide to fit the sensor body, or they may be ill-positioned on the nacelle for a particular sensor’s profile; alternative sensor cables might have to be sourced and cut to length; and additional wires might be needed to establish the proper interface between sensor cable and controller. Ultimately, most successful retrofits require several peripherals in addition to the sensors themselves, which can be a cause for frustration and ultimately discourages many turbine operators from switching their fleet over to a preferable sensor.

Solutions, Not Sensors!

Earlier this year, RNRG decided to rethink its approach to turbine control retrofits in response to these growing customer pains. A competitive sensor was no longer enough. We concluded that our customers aren’t interested in turbine control sensors—they want turbine control solutions that foresee and address all the issues posed by a complicated retrofit campaign, allowing them to take advantage of the sensors’ benefits. We wanted to step in and complete the picture so our customers would have confidence that when one of their technicians got up-tower, she would have clear instructions and absolutely everything she needs to get the job done and move on to the next machine without any hang-ups or last minute runs to the hardware store.

A Hybrid XT retrofit kit consists of several components that enable a seamless transition, whether you are replacing one of our legacy IceFree anemometers and wind vanes or a third party sensor. It starts with the sensor itself, of course, and we recently released new versions with outputs for integration with several new turbine models. The next component is the sensor cable, which we provide in lengths cut for the platform in question so that you know it will reach where it needs to go. Next, mechanical adapters are designed and fabricated for exactly the nacelle your sensors fly on, ensuring secure and fully integrated mounting. Finally, a power supply is provided when replacing unheated sensors, and wiring kits are included to accommodate the wiring schematic of your particular controller’s electronics.

RNRG’s Approach

Once the components are in place, RNRG does not sell a new commercial retrofit kit until our technicians install them in the field personally and develop detailed instructions to overcome any lasting complications. These instructions are formalized as app notes and published on our website when the sensors become available for sale, and the same technicians that performed the initial installations are also available to walk our customers through the process as needed.

The success of our retrofit program speaks to the strength of RNRG’s approach in general—listening to our customer’s needs as they come up, understanding the pain and costs associated with them, and developing comprehensive solutions that address these concerns and make their jobs easier. That has been and will continue to be our recipe for success as we work with our customers to achieve our vision of a world powered by renewable energy.

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Rob Cole

As a product manager, Rob's focus is on wind resource assessment and remote sensing technologies. He first became interested in renewable energy while studying in Denmark during his junior year of college, where he witnessed firsthand the impressive changes the Danes have made to their energy system. Rob wants to bring products to market that make it easier for the world to transition towards greater penetrations of renewable energy.  He writes about industry trends and how NRG’s products address our customers’ challenges.

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