Modern data communications technology, an indispensible requirement for implementing smart grids, is also now being increasingly utilized in the distribution and generation of wind energy. Compared with other industrial environments, the conditions in wind energy plants are also rugged and harsh. Infrastructure systems and components should also cope with extreme stresses. That is why the connection, cabling and network technology from Belden (www.belden.com), along with its Lumberg and Hirschmann Automation brands, which have already successfully demonstrated their reliability and effectiveness in the field of industrial automation, are also the selected components for data communications in wind energy plants.
The comprehensive product portfolio is composed of embedded Ethernet solutions, fieldbus distributors and repeaters plus Industrial fieldbus and Ethernet cable, industrial plug-in connection systems and patch panels.
“Power stations’ data links to the power grid are progressing well, and Ethernet is increasingly being used in place of existing disparate and, in some cases, proprietary solutions. This means, for instance, that inverters are also being equipped with appropriate interfaces,” said Ute Decker, Belden’s Vertical Marketing Manager for Alternative Power Generation. She observed other trend, namely, increasing data is being recorded, transmission is increasingly in real time, and networks are acquiring ever more subscribers. “In this context we find that security, i.e., protecting the transmitted data against unauthorized access, is becoming more and more important,” she added.
In the distribution and generation of wind energy, data is exchanged not only in wind energy plants, but also between the plants and substations. There are separate networks for different tasks. “Besides Ethernet, certain applications also use fieldbuses such as CAN and wireless solutions for condition monitoring, and some remote monitoring facilities make use of existing interfaces such as GSM or DSL,” said Ms. Decker. To ensure the reliability of data communications, the systems and components must be particularly robust and must be able to withstand both high levels of humidity and extreme temperatures.
“The modular and compact Industrial Ethernet switches in our MICE, RS, RSB and MACH series have been successfully used in countless wind energy plants for many years, as have the WLAN access points in our BAT series, the industrial security solutions of our EAGLE line, and network management tools such as Industrial HiVision,” Ute Decker added.