12 Nov 2019

Power and Load Banks for Pre-Commissioning and Commissioning New Windfarms

Wind farm at sunset

Before you can start supplying electricity to the grid, you need to prove that you really can produce the amount of power you claim you can. That means you need to load test each part of your wind farm operation - and at full load. 

But how do you do that without simply connecting to the grid? And how do you measure performance and capacity effectively if you have multiple projects on the go, all at different stages of completion?

A complex setup like a wind farm requires extensive electrical and mechanical commissioning. If you’re going to meet your production deadlines and start delivering commercial power as quickly as possible, you’ll need a swift and reliable strategy for performing all this load testing as efficiently as possible.

This is where loadbanks come in. Simply put, loadbanks mimic the “true” electoral load that a power source will give out in a real-life application. They do this by creating a load, applying this to an electrical power source, and then converting the power output that comes from the power source as a result. 

Here’s where things get a bit tricky, though. Your loadbanks need to have enough capacity to replicate the huge amount of power your wind farm can generate. You may also have a wind farm comprising turbines at different stages of development and construction, including some that are already connected to the grid.

Take the Morro Dos Ventos windfarm in Brazil, for example. DESA, the company that owned the windfarm, needed to test how well their turbines performed before they could connect to the local grid. As a well-established renewable energy provider, DESA already had 1000MW of power generation capacity in operation, plus a number of other projects in all different stages of pre-commissioning and commissioning.

Testing this combined load was no small feat. Luckily, we were able to provide loadbanks with a collective capacity of 3.3 MVA - enough to simulate the load for the whole windfarm in one go - plus supporting generators, distribution panels and all the other paraphernalia necessary to turn the project around fast. 

The result? DESA proved that they were fully operational and got the green light to supply 145 MW of power to the region.

Effective load testing is vital for any wind farm. To do it right, you need a temporary utilities provider who not only has large enough load banks to test the full capacity of your site in one go but can provide the generator power and other tools to run the project without a hitch. Whoever you work with, make them prove to you that they know how to do this before they help you prove yourself to the grid!