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Envision Energy wants to connect the world: Data collection for a good cause

Envision is pushing for the European wind energy market – with all force. Last week, the Chinese company exhibited for the first time at the WindEnergy fair in Hamburg and scored two records at the same time: They had booked the largest stand area for a single stand, and they brought a massive LED screen that was second to none.

Envision Energy at the WindEnergy Hamburg (Image: Katrin Radtke)Envision Energy at the WindEnergy Hamburg (Image: Katrin Radtke)

This fits into the business strategy of the company, which was founded in Shanghai in 2007 and recently opened its European headquarters in Hamburg. In an interview with Reuters, CEO Lei Zhang announced a one-billion-euro investment in Northern Europe for the next three to five years. To date, the company has been operating an innovation center in Denmark and has now opened the office in Hamburg to coordinate European energy management. "We think we can offer better products, hardware and software," Zhang states. "Germany is going to be our experimental lab."

Up to now, the company as the world's eighth largest turbine manufacturer, was able to score above all in its home country. Of the plants with a capacity of 7.5 gigawatts, most are located in China, where they are also active in the offshore sector. A special system with two adjustable rotor blades is supposed to be particularly resistant to the typhoons in the Chinese Sea and has been tested in Denmark for three years. But there are also already innovation centers in the United States in several locations.

Adding up to the wind turbines, Envision looks after 50 gigawatts of renewable energy plants using the company’s energy management system. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the Chinese are especially interested in the German ‘Energiewende’ (energy transition), because it offers the greatest opportunities in the energy industry at the moment. In addition to the production of wind power plants, the company also provides software for creating extensive networks. At the WindEnergy fair, these products were presented for the first time outside China.

The Energy Plant Operation Management EnOS is an open source platform that can be used to network the generation and storage of renewable energy, smart grids and electric vehicles. Thanks to real-time computing and data analysis, EnOS can intelligently control the use of all energy infrastructures, such as where, when, and how much devices produce, store and use energy.

The idea behind it is an all-encompassing solution for a networked energy supply in the future. Prior condition for this is that operators and manufacturers make their data available, because the whole system is cloud-based. While Envision emphasizes that the system is secure, the fear of data leaks is likely to be great among Europeans who are sensitized to these topics.

The second product, EnSight, also focuses on data collection: EnSight uses physics-based models that use Big Data to unambiguously identify statistically significant underperformance and recommend appropriate corrective measures. These practical findings optimize wind farm performances and lead to maximum economic returns. For this purpose, a comprehensive database is required, which must be constantly updated with current data from the wind farm itself and external influences like weather conditions.

Wind turbine by Envision Energy (Image: Envision)

Then, the company promises, it should be possible to give more precise analyzes of the sites before even the construction of the wind farm starts and to place the turbines even better in the landscape to get the maximum power out. This includes, of course, the 'smart turbines' of the Chinese, who also collect and utilize data with certain algorithms. "We want to use the entire value chain, not just the turbine production," explains Peter Thorsted, Head of the Danish Center for Innovation at the Hamburg fair.

Over the past few months, Envision has already purchased a number of companies to access their data, including BazeField, Europe's second-largest software vendor for renewable energy management, and ChargePoint, the world's largest manufacturer of charge column networks. A further part of the targeted one billion of investments is also likely to flow into partnerships. It does not matter whether it is a start-up or a large utilities – the main thing is the amount of data they can provide.

Katrin Radtke
Envision Energy, WindEnergy Hamburg, fair, Chinese

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