Bord Gáis Energy picks Natural Power to manage wind farms

8 Aug 2011

Renewable energy consultancy Natural Power is to deploy its WindCentre service and in-house developed software solution to remotely manage the 13 Bord Gáis Energy (BGE) wind farms in Ireland.

Natural Power will manage the daily operations of BGE’s wind farms using WindCentre, its monitoring, management and control service that has been developed in-house.

Operated by site engineers, WindCentre is a 24-hour control room service that is facilitated by a purpose-built software solution for health and safety management, work order recording and access control, which the company says are all in line with industry best practice, such as the RenewableUK wind turbine safety rules.

As well operations management, WindCentre will also perform remote operation and reset on some of the turbines within Bord Gáis Energy’s portfolio. The WindCentre operations database can be accessed 24/7 by the utility company’s site engineers via internet connection with availability levels exceeding 99.5pc, claims Natural Power, to allow area managers have high levels of visibility of all work activities on wind farms under their remit.

Largest wind farm on the Cork-Kerry border

In all, the 13 BGE wind farms in Ireland have a combined capacity of 225 megawatts (MW). The company’s largest wind farm is Kilgarven, which has been up and running since 2006. With 15 Vestas 3MW wind turbines, the Kilgarven site is located near the Cork-Kerry border, about 7km from Kilgarven. It has a generating power of 45MW.

BGE has been investing significantly into expanding its clean energy portfolio, with wind becoming a key part of its investment strategy. It acquired wind farm operator SWS Natural Resources in December 2009 in a transaction worth more than €500m. In 2010, BGE invested €200m in capital projects to support the delivery of energy solutions, including renewables.

“This contract represents an important step for Bord Gais in providing world-class asset management for our expanding renewable energy fleet and we are pleased that Natural Power’s WindCentre will play an important role in this strategy,” said George Martin, head of Asset Operations at BGE, referring to the partnership with Natural Power.

Photo: Bord Gais Energy Ballymartin wind farm installation in Co Kilkenny

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic