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Demand-driven night marking for wind turbines – An IoT solution for Lanthan Safe Sky GmbH

IoT Use Case Telefónica Lanthan Safe Sky
4 minutes Reading time
4 minutes Reading time

Not only since today wind power is indispensable for the energy turnaround in Germany. Nevertheless, wind farms are sometimes disliked because the reddish continuous flashing at night pollutes nature and residents feel disturbed. On the other hand, it is mandatory by law to equip structures above a certain minimum height with obstacle warning lights to protect aircraft from collisions. This applies not only near airports, but everywhere – just think of rescue or police helicopters operating at night or in bad weather. 

The challenge: Guaranteed activation on approach of aircraft

So how can the two requirements – protecting aircraft from collisions with wind turbines on the one hand, and increasing the acceptance of these wind turbines among local residents on the other – be reconciled? The magic word for this is “demand-controlled night marking (German: BNK)”: Here, the red lamps of the obstacle marking on the wind turbines are only switched on when an aircraft is actually in the vicinity of the wind farm.

However, this is a technically highly complex process. An essential part of this are so-called transponderswhich are permanently installed in every aircraft and permanently send information about the current position of the aircraft, among other things. This transponder data is then received not only by ground stations, but also by other aircraft in the vicinity. There, they are used to give pilots precise instructions for evasive maneuvers when two aircraft are about to approach.

The history of this so-called transponder BNK is closely linked to the Lanthan Safe Sky GmbH which emerged from the founders of Lanthan, Air Avionics and RECASE. It combines the expertise of a leading provider of obstacle detection systems, an aviation-approved avionics system manufacturer and an experienced engineering and consulting service provider from the field of renewable energies, and thus successfully brought a safe, cost-effective and sustainable detection technology to market years ago.

New legal regulations of the ICAO, the world’s highest international civil aviation organization, already permit the use of transponder BNK technology. In Germany, there is even a legal obligation. But what sounds so simple – the flashing light goes off and only comes on again when there is movement – is a safety-relevant process, because reception of the transponder signals in the wind turbine must be guaranteed at all times. This in turn requires a stable and uninterruptible Internet connection requires secure and encrypted data communication, as well as the integration of transparent and automated SIM card management and control.

The Solution: Telefónica Industrial IoT SIM Card and Kite Platform

Telefónica Deutschland had the perfect solution here thanks to its digital service and product portfolio. Telefónica offers precisely the flexibility, security and scalability required, coupled with the expertise and innovative strength of a globally active telecommunications company.

Telefónica has a whole range of different SIM types and form factors in its portfolio to meet the specific needs of M2M or IoT applications. Besides standard SIM cards for normal conditions, there are also Special industrial SIM cards for use in particularly harsh and fluctuating environmental conditions, which operate reliably even at temperatures from -40 to +105 degrees Celsius and are protected against moisture and corrosion.

The Global SIM Vivo-O2-Movistar IoT SIM card was therefore selected for use in Lanthan Safe Sky’s transponder BNK, which can log into any available cellular network, providing just the right connectivity to network the individual wind turbines. This will ensure a stable Internet connection to every single nacelle in the wind farm is ensured.

In addition, Lanthan Safe Sky can control its IoT SIMs via the Telefónica Kite platform. This not only provides full transparency regarding the functionality of the SIM cards, but also provides a complete overview of data usage and enables comprehensive analysis of connectivity. Information from the kite platform also provides the basis for billing wind turbine operators. Via an interface (API)the SIM cards can be activated and tested during production – an indispensable feature with an announced volume of up to 10,000 SIM cards.

The result: Highest security standards thanks to direct networking and high-performance server infrastructure

In 2020, Lanthan Safe Sky’s control system with Telefónica’s integrated IoT solution was the first system in Germany to meet the more stringent marking requirements for on-demand night marking of aviation obstacles via transponder signals. Thanks to direct networking between the wind turbines and the servers of Lanthan Safe Sky, the solution works very efficiently. Automated activation and testing of the Global SIMs Vivo-o2-Movistar via the Telefónica Kite platform enables efficient administration, provides a quick overview of data volumes used and simplifies billing with wind turbine operators.

In application

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