The wind energy industry is at a crossroads. With 40 to 80 GW of wind capacity reaching the end of its designed operational life in the next decade according to WindEurope, lifetime extension is a top priority and data will play a big role in accomplishing this task. But equally, and perhaps more excitingly, there is a huge opportunity for greater synergy between wind energy and other parts of the energy ecosystem. Storage, demand management, electric vehicles, smart homes – a series of yet undeveloped opportunities where data will play a pivotal role and ultimately open up new, unknown horizons for business.
Data in the wind energy sector is ubiquitous; from armies of sensors across the value chain to data sources from design, siting, logistics, manufacturing and operations. Walking the walk is no longer simply about technical excellence. Instead, today’s challenge will undoubtedly look familiar: How do we turn data into value? And what does this value look like to businesses in wind? It could be cost reductions, greater annual energy production, new business models, interoperable products, market development, and many more.
The answer? It’s about building flexible partnerships to extract as much value as possible out of this ecosystem. At this stage, the ecosystem is a bit of an organised chaos: With new digital initiatives, platforms, start-ups and services announced almost every week, the classical company-university-research centre model no longer exists.
From the ashes of an incumbent industry, the ecosystem is evolving into new communities of start-ups, developers and coders with new dynamics, methodologies and a high proportion of millennials. While dynamism springs from all kind of players: Universities, PhD students, entrepreneurs and SMEs, integrating these highly innovative catalysts into more conventional businesses is a challenge in itself. It requires an open-minded approach.
To gain first mover advantage in this ongoing chess game, players must keep their gaze firmly fixed on this ever-evolving ecosystem and be ready to capitalise on the best developments. In this new world, innovative, collaborative models, smart IP rules and management, adapted merger and acquisitions strategies and, at the core, effective ways of scouting and sourcing talent: People, ideas and competencies are all key.
Scouting and sourcing talent along with developing unique, potentially even revolutionary, ideas and competencies brings us round to why we’re running Hack the Wind 2018. For 48 hours, 120 of the brightest designers, developers, data scientists, analysts and blockchain developers will work on two challenges for the chance to win a €20,000 prize. The event is the ecosystem in a nutshell, a hotbed for innovation where collaboration is critical in developing the most implementable solution and winning.
But even those solutions that don’t win may revolutionise how the wind industry operates, cooperates and progresses. Data is the star of the show, but it’s also about how business, technology and data analytics mix together to create paths to business success.
Emilien Simonot, Renewable Energy Technology Officer, InnoEnergy
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