Why was energy consult founded, how is it currently operating and how is it already adapting to future challenges today? These uestions are the topic of a three-part interview with the management of energy consult. In the first part we speak about the history of the company
with Henning Wegner, Sales/Business Development Manager at energy consult GmbH, and Hartmut Flügel, Technical Operations Manager.
Mr Wegner, how was energy consult founded?
Wegner:“25 years ago, the highly professionalised system of power supply was confronted with owners of the first wind power plants, who were mainly interested in a profitable, futureproof investment.
At that time, wind power plants were created as follows: project developers secured land, planned individual wind power plants and sold these to interested parties as investments. The wind power plants were then correspondingly bought at the manufacturer incl. maintenance contract, connected to the grid and the grid operator paid the feed-in tariff for each kilowatt hour of output produced to the operator.”
Sounds a bit like a moneymaking scheme…
Wegner: “Yes, only after a while, it was noticed that the power plant was not continuously generating electricity, either for technical reasons or because there was too little wind. There were downtimes, which created liquidity problems for the owners. Consequently, the owner complained to the manufacturer, who referred to the contracts. Ultimately, the owner became very frustrated, who had imagined the investment in wind to be more lucrative.”
“From the mid 90s, the wind power plant sector developed very dynamically, but always with the focus on increased performance: In 1997, the average nominal output of a wind power plant was 400 kilowatts; five years later a megawatt and in 2007, it was already two megawatts. The model cycles came in such quick succession, that other important things were forgotten, such as legal equirements, noise protection and occupational safety – these were simply not yet very strongly applied to the wind power technology. Also, the wind power plant did not fit into existing standards and guidelines for standard electrical engineering, e.g. test cycles.”
“The project developers then realised: we need a professional service that accompanies the operational area even after construction and therefore supports the owner in their function as an operator.”
Wegner: And so, almost every project developer created a technical and commercial management for their customers: they defined maintenance strategies, dealt with guarantee obligations and warranties, negotiated with the grid supplier, planned the liquidity and provided all the services that, in some cases, the operator could not afford. One of the first such operations managers was energy consult.”
What did this operations management look like in the early years?
Wegner: “To begin with, two employees looked after the project planning and operations management of what was then ten wind power plants with a total of two megawatts of output. System information and error messages came via online fax, as at the start of the 90s, only telephone lines could reach right up to the outlying areas under the wind power plants.”
Two employees – one fax line: unimaginable today. Find out what is required for the
operations management of wind power plants in 2017 and in which direction energy consult
has developed in part 2 of the interview ..