Risk Analysis in Wind Energy: An Alternative Approach for Decision-Making
Wind energy enterprises are complex in nature. They usually comprise large amounts of energy, soil movements, equipment of high technology, and qualified human resources for which economic and financial requirements are necessary. On the other hand, political, social, and environmental agreements must be achieved to carry out a new project. Sometimes wind energy facilities are prototypes, there are non-existing similar projects or when they are, they are not directly comparable. In addition, new problematic scenarios are arising: climate parameters are changing and statistical regularities are falling.
The concept of safety, associated with an engineering facility, has evolved significantly over time. Safety is an inherent attribute we state in words which usually is expressed in different degrees. In order to quantify this characteristic risk analysis is used. Techniques based on Probability Theory are successful and abundant in the bibliography. The mathematics involved in these approaches have been changing over time trying to respond to new problems and features. The later originated not only in the audacity of current designs but also in order to include in the algorithms more representation and detail of the processes associated with the engineering stages from design through calculation and construction to maintenance and finally decommission. Nevertheless the border conditions of application of bivalent mathematics must be taken into account: variables must be random.
Wind Energy enterprises are good examples of this. The socioeconomic and financial context where they are embedded gravitates significantly in outputs. The human factor is associated with the concepts of ignorance and uncertainty; both incorporate vulnerability. Modern technology has now reached a point where improved safety can only be achieved through a better understanding of human error mechanisms. This is the reason why a modern approach requires the incorporation of the human factor as structuring core of the problem.
Uncertainty related to human behavior is significant and is present in all activities related to engineering. It is well known that according to available statistical information and international experience the principal cause of failures is due to human errors.
Risk analysis of a wind energy project need to be analyzed, discussed, and finally agreed using a logical formal structure that can gather and represent in a rational way all the available information and the interactions among them. A hierarchy map is proposed to address this problem.
A conceptual starting point and a framework of thought are presented in order to give a more rational and inclusive understanding and approach in the risk analysis of a wind energy facility to contribute in the decision-making process.
KeywordsRisk Uncertainty Complexity Human factor Decision-making
The authors of this chapter, directed by engineer Arturo Bignoli, started a research group at the Engineering Faculty of National University of Comahue. The working topic under study was at the beginning structural safety in general. Then it was applied to dam safety and at present renewable energy projects are addressed. In all the cases the core of the activities was the analysis and treatment of the uncertainties in general and those associated to soft variables in particular. Alternative logics (fuzzy logic, interval probability) have been used to represent and incorporate them in the proposed algorithms and procedures. The authors appreciate engineer Arturo Bignoli’s intellectual and human generosity during the years.
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