A SimCity-like wind farm operations game where players compete to extend the life of a fleet of virtual turbines at the lowest possible cost has been launched by US digitalisation pioneer Sentient Science.

The Wind Challenge – being run with European advocacy body WindEurope, American turbine technician collective Tower Climbing Grease Monkeys (TCGM) and Recharge throughout September – was developed to shape the debate over how to use operations data effectively to further cut the cost of wind energy.

Competitors in the online game, set on a fictional project site in Greenland, will be given anonymised datasets for a wind farm, choose which turbine technologies to ‘play’ with, and then test out life-extension strategies that will impact the net present repair cost and revenue that the virtual asset will make over time, using a range of life extension strategies on one-60 wind turbines on the fictitious wind farm.

“We know that the missing piece of the data discussion is materials science, because without understanding the behaviour of the materials, you can’t succeed at life extension. The Wind Challenge allows wind experts to play with the data and see the financial and life impacts of their decisions,” says Sentient Science chief executive Ward Thomas.

“The Wind Challenge demonstrates how digitalisation opens the lines of communication between owner/operators, OEMs and suppliers, creating opportunities to extend the life of wind assets and to lower the cost of operations.”

TCGM chief executive Neal Gyngard states: “The reason I’m supporting The Wind Challenge is to help technicians realise that we can work smarter rather than harder. If we combine our common sense, first tribal knowledge of how to maintain turbines and extend their life with Sentient’s DigitalClone software, we can make a serious impact on how owners and operators in this space make decisions.

“There will be financial benefits that result from this effort, but more importantly we will save technicians from having to make the same repairs over and over again just because a company decided it was cheaper to pay for labour than to invest in quality components.”

The Wind Challenge will culminate on 26 September with the announcement of five winners at the Global Wind Summit in Hamburg, Germany, where Sentient Science is the Digitalisation Partner.

First prize will go to the player that achieves the most life extension in months with the cheapest repair cost, with second, third and fourth place awarded to those gamers with the most life extension in months at the cheapest repair cost for each turbine model type.

Fifth place will be given to the player who adds the 'Best LifeX Action' to the database, as judged by a panel of industry judges. A Pit bike and drones are among the prizes to be won.

The first iteration of the game is expected to be further developed into versions tailored for applications including asset, supply chain, risk and origination management.

The Wind Challenge will open on 10 September.

Recharge will produce the official event publication for the Global Wind Summit in Hamburg between 25-28 September.