Smart wind farm control (SWIFT)

Belgium wants to meet the European 202020 energy goals. Therefore, the share of renewable energy needs to be 13% of the total energy use in 2020. To meet this ambitious objective, large wind farms need to be installed. Yet, the grid operators face substantial challenges to integrate these new production units: since they require expensive and time-consuming investments to extend the capacity of the network, the realization of many of such farms gets postponed or risks to be canceled. The SWIFT consortium believes that investments in grid infrastructure can be alleviated, or in some cases altogether avoided, by applying smart ICT control of the wind turbines (wind energy modulation or curtailment). The ultimate, high level objective of SWIFT is to maximize the integration of wind turbines in the distribution grid while minimizing the amount of lost wind energy at the lowest possible overall cost. With innovative forecasting, active network and demand side management methods, we aim to increase the hosting capacity of the distribution grid, and consequently, open up opportunities for more renewable power generation.

First studies show that by adding smart ICT control, more locations can be considered to host these distributed power plants. However, important challenges remain unaddressed: Which grid segments need real-time monitoring and protection (spatial resolution of grid boundaries)? What is the best time window to avoid unstable/nervous control? What is the hosting capacity given local grid constraints and a minimal return on investment for investors? How to include fairness in the load balancing algorithm, to avoid always cutting off the same producer? How to implement this ICT strategy across the stakeholders using standards for telecontrol & grid management? And finally, how do the different parameters impact the overall capacity of the grid?

By addressing these questions, SWIFT can achieve a potential breakthrough solution for smart grids. If we can show how control algorithms can be implemented in a real-time and real-life setting, and if we thus succeed to increase the percentage of injected energy, the project results may lead to a breakthrough and change the way grids will be designed. Today grid assets are designed for all anticipated load and injection cases with a reasonable safety margin. The project results should lead to more flexible dimensioning rules yielding lower costs at the same security of supply. The algorithms may find their way into commercial virtual power plant software, real-time grid control systems, infrastructure planning tools, investment tools.


The SWIFT consortium brings together top local researchers from leading industrial players (3E, GE, EANDIS) and universities (IBCN, DistriNet, EELAB), and defined a sharp focus but with deep optimization potential. In order to ensure application of our findings in a realistic context, the consortium partners managed to select a suitable proof-of-concept area (Waaslandhaven wind farm project), with the agreement of the involved stakeholders (Port of Antwerp, ELIA, VREG). This site has the potential to become the largest onshore wind farm in Belgium, and also offers interesting energy demand flexibility from the Port of Antwerp industry.

The project will tackle the technical questions in terms of algorithmic approaches through extensive simulation studies, but also validate them in a real-life proof-of-concept, as well as provide business insights via quantitative techno-economical studies.



More information about the project can be found at

Project fiche