Duke Energy Cutting Wind O&M Costs Through Digitalization


Looking to reduce the cost of maintaining its wind turbines, Duke Energy Renewables has been working with Sentient Science on a digitalization strategy.

Duke Energy Renewables owns or manages 4 GW of wind assets and has realized tremendous savings by shifting to in-house operations and maintenance (O&M) over the past few years, the company says.

“We have teams dedicated to understanding the ways emerging technologies like Sentient Science’s DigitalClone Live can improve our operations,” says Jeff Wehner, vice president of renewable operations at Duke Energy. “By integrating this technology platform and data with our systems, we can continue to cut costs, provide our wind technicians with the right data to be more efficient and produce more reliable wind energy.”

Duke Energy Renewables also provides O&M services to third-party wind turbine owner-operators who are seeking to reduce their costs.

“We’ve estimated that these operators can save significant O&M costs by using an independent services provider,” Wehner continues. “As wind fleets across the U.S. age and wear increases, emerging technologies will be important in driving future cost-savings. Duke Energy Renewables is making investments now to ensure we have state-of-the-art tools for our technicians, replacement teams and asset managers. After we have some experience in our own fleet, we expect to offer this enhanced service to other operators who contract with us.”

Duke Energy Renewables structured a pilot program with Sentient Science to evaluate how its materials science-based software, DigitalClone Live, predicts failure risk and forecasts gearbox health over a multiyear period. Sentient Science digitalized GE’s 1.5 MW machines within Duke Energy’s operational fleet and identified specific wind turbines with observable gearbox damage. Duke Energy Renewable Services then confirmed the software predictions and proactively scheduled uptower replacements.

“Together, we are transforming the operations and maintenance sector for wind. By investing in cutting-edge technologies like DigitalClone, Duke Energy Renewables is opening new business opportunities, cutting costs and delivering reliable energy to their customers,” comments Ward Thomas, CEO and president of Sentient Science. “The Internet of Things isn’t just for consumers. It’s changing the way utilities behave to reduce their levelized cost of energy, further helping renewables compete with traditional energy sources.”

Implementation on the multiyear digitalization and life-extension contract is well underway, the companies say. Duke Energy Renewables’ wind fleet has been added to Sentient Science’s network of 20,000 wind turbines. Sentient Science monitors 400,000 bearings and 100,000 gears in real time to extend asset life, mitigate early-stage damage and prevent failure.

A full case study can be found here.

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