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Electronics Manufacturing & Production Handbook 2019


Wireless data networks for wind farms
28 January 2004, Telecoms, Datacoms, Wireless, IoT

Stark against the horizon like giant palms reaching for the sky, their beauty and contribution to the environment are a matter of some discussion. But love them or hate them, wind-driven generators are here to stay and are almost certainly going to become even more pervasive. In fact a great deal of investment in wind farms for the production of electrical power is happening in several European countries as well as in the USA. And every wind farm represents a classic market opportunity for an integrated data network, turnkey project.

By definition, these farms are located in scarcely-populated windy areas such as hills, narrow valleys or cliffs open to the sea; all places where there is little, if any, coverage from the public communication networks.

On the other hand, the nature of the energy produced requires that it cannot be stored but must be used immediately at the very same moment it is generated. Consequently, wind farms are almost always connected to the national grid; normally via a substation. Here the outputs of all the turbines are combined and the voltage is transformed up, the power is metered for accounting purposes and transferred to the grid. Often there are several vendors (the producers of wind power), each with its own substation next to that of the grid. These substations are usually located in remote areas and - for environmentally-aesthetic reasons - are in hidden areas.

As with any advanced technology, each and every turbine needs to be carefully controlled and monitored. Further, there are maintenance teams who have to communicate with each other whilst in the field: typically between the ground and the top of the towers and from each tower to the control room, etc. In some instances it is also necessary to transmit video signals.

In situations where the area of operation is relatively small and the number of towers is limited, a dedicated network with high speed narrow band radio modems such as the Satelline-3AS models from Satel are more than adequate. Where the installation is spread over areas covering many hundreds of kilometres then the delay time introduced by the repetition of the UHF signals is no longer acceptable and more sophisticated networks are required, eg, a long distance microwave network transmitting in realtime with an adequate number of broadcasting points from which utilities up to 20 to 30 km are served.

For more information contact Satel SA, 011 887 2898.

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