Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


VirtuWind — Result In Brief

Project ID: 671648
Funded under: H2020-EU.
Country: Germany
Domain: Energy

The 5G magic applied to wind parks

Demonstrations run under the VirtuWind project are making the benefits of 5G more tangible than ever. By combining SDN and NFV technologies, the project consortium can effectively reduce capital investment and operation costs for the sector.
The 5G magic applied to wind parks
5G is more than an incremental evolution of mobile networks. It is a much-needed leap forward that will mark the move from traditional networks to programmable ones – that is, smart networks aware of all their users’ needs and requirements, and capable of allocating resources accordingly. In fact, the necessity of such paradigm change can already be felt in various sectors.

Let’s take wind turbines: currently, setting up a wind farm implies very high capital and operational expenditure, and a substantial share of that cost arises from network limitations including a lack of bandwidth, delay, jitter, packet loss and redundancy. With 5G networks and their tailored resources allocation, this problem could potentially disappear.

Enabling such key 5G functionality has therefore been a priority for researchers. VirtuWind was initiated with the firm belief that Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) are one of the most promising solutions, as their combination can provide programmable connectivity, rapid service provisioning and service chaining.

“SDN offers programmable north bound interface to different software and end devices. They request the networking resources they need to the SDN controller, which in turn checks the availability of these resources and secures them by programming the flows in the underlying data plane. This allows for much higher service velocity compared to traditional methods of network configuration,” says Vivek Kulkarni, coordinator of the VirtuWind project on behalf of Siemens. “NFV, on the other hand, offers orthogonal benefits to SDN through the softwarization of hardware network components such as switches, routers, firewall etc.”

The purpose of VirtuWind consortium was to come up with a detailed reference architecture including SDN and NFV building blocks, and to demonstrate it in real wind park environments. Indeed, whilst the wind power industry is a good example of an industrial network with strict performance, security, and reliability requirements, very few approaches had so far proposed radical changes in reducing capital investment and operation/maintenance costs.

“VirtuWind’s trial scenarios focused on reducing complexity in setting up wind park communication infrastructure via SDN and NFV technologies, thereby saving CAPEX and OPEX, granting speedy access to the different stakeholders and providing value added services with end-to-end industrial QoS to remote applications spanning across different network service providers,” Kulkarni explains.

The demonstrations proved successful, and the results were showcased at prestigious exhibitions and fairs which including the Mobile World Congress, the Global 5G Event and WindEurope. Stakeholders were particularly interested in purchasing VirtuWind solutions, and now that the project is completed, partners intend to follow suit.

“As a next step of standardisation, Siemens plans to test and verify different 5G solutions including SDN/NFV. Intracom Telecom is working on a 5G-ready CDN solution, and Intel plans to leverage VirtuWind learnings to deploy and manage VNFs as well as apply SDN control when building solutions for the Network Edge. And these are just a few examples of what’s to come,” Kulkarni concludes.


VirtuWind, 5G, wind park, expenditure, OPEX, CAPEX, SDN, NFV
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