With a formula for success which includes combining years of practical experience with enviable scientific know-how in all areas of wind energy utilisation, Deutsche WindGuard Consulting GmbH has built an enviable reputation among the wind farms of Europe. The company, based near Hamburg in Germany, offers its customers engineering services of the highest standards in all areas of wind energy utilisation. Here PES talks to Axel Albers, Managing Director and one of Deutsche WindGuard’s founding members, about the company, its operations and its future …
PES: Welcome to PES magazine. Could you begin by telling us a little bit about your company and its history?
Axel Albers: We founded WindGuard in 2001 with the, then new, business idea to provide technical management for wind farms as an independent service, as a kind of supervisor of the work of turbine manufacturers and service teams. The idea was borne out of the situation that wind farms were becoming more and more interesting as a financial investment and were operated by owners from a financial background with little or no technical experience. Many of them thought they could invest in a wind farm and the wind turbine manufacturer would take care for everything. We were the first to offer technical wind farm management as an independent service because we knew that you need a technical background to run a MW-scale wind farm properly and efficiently. It has to be run as a power plant and not as an investment.
The staff of WindGuard already had years of experience in the wind energy business by then. So about half a year after founding WindGuard, a bank asked us to advise them about the financing of wind farms. Banks in Germany were hardly used to contract technical due diligence at that time. However, they were in the situation that more and more projects were planned at sites with less favourable wind conditions, where the economics of the projects became increasingly uncertain. In this frame, we have built up a risk assessment system for wind farm projects. The focus was first on questions of the wind resource and later also on technical issues. This service became so successful that six months later we worked for almost every bank in Germany and we had to set up teams for site assessment and due diligence.
Then, in 2003, we expanded our business to the calibration of anemometers and built our first wind tunnel. This wind tunnel now represents the national standard for the physical unit “m/s” in Germany. Back then we were the first to hold our own wind tunnel especially designed for anemometer calibrations, which brought the advantage that we had the wind tunnel all the time at our disposal and could commission faster than our competitors. By now we have a wind tunnel centre with four wind tunnels; two fully accredited ones (MEASNET and DKD) for the calibration of anemometers and wind vanes, one icing wind tunnel and one large-scale acoustically-optimised wind tunnel for the measurement of rotor blade profiles.