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11 reasons for the Dark Sky Transponder System

The Dark Sky transponder system is decentralised, which means that each aviation obstacle or wind turbine is equipped with a transponder antenna and connected directly on site to the lighting system. Remote monitoring is carried out via a mobile radio connection, which, however, has no special requirements in terms of bandwidth and speed. Dark Sky bears the costs for the mobile phone connection within the framework of the service contract. A central internet connection or integration into the wind farm’s network structure is not required with this ADLS solution.

Unlike central or internet-based systems, the decentralised transponder system ADLS 2020 does not have to be integrated into existing communication networks in the wind turbines or wind farm. This eliminates the need for time-consuming coordination with network operators regarding IP addresses, VLAN and firewalls. The risk of failure due to network problems or unplanned changes to the network structure can thus be significantly reduced. The system is also protected against attacks from the Internet, as all ADLS systems communicate in a mobile network that is separate from the Internet. Access to the systems is only possible via strictly secured VPN dial-in. The operating data can only be viewed via the Dark Sky portal and is protected from unauthorised access via user rights.

Many ADLS systems are modular and combine these different modules to create a project-specific solution. This makes the quotations, installation and service of these solutions a time-consuming process, and also increases the susceptibility to errors and the variance of the components. Dark Sky is different: all units of the Dark Sky system are based on the same standardised structure and are only adapted to the respective installation situation in the wind turbine. This means that each wind turbine has an almost identical installation, which is a great advantage when servicing is required; moreover, the installation is limited to the decentralised components in the turbine’s nacelle. Modules can therefore be replaced at any time without precise knowledge of the system design, and the small number of components and variants simplifies procurement and avoids production downtimes due to missing components.

The decentralized structure, the standardized design and the absence of any network integration make it possible to install the Dark Sky system without complex project planning and detailed knowledge of the wind turbines to be equipped. The type examination for the system provides for a two-part site test, whereby the first part is created before installation and can be used for submission to the state aviation authorities. The second part is created immediately after installation and can also be submitted later. In most cases, Dark Sky carries out the site inspection itself. Depending on the authority, very fast approval procedures are possible, also because the system and the site inspections are already known and recognized in most federal states.

As a special feature compared to some competitors, Dark Sky can carry out the site inspection for the ADLS System itself without the involvement of external experts. The theoretical part of the site test is already completed before installation and can serve as the first submission to the approval authority, and it also defines the type of practical test. This second practical part is carried out after the installation and can be done largely without test flights, it can usually be completed a few days after the installation. Unless the customer has already commissioned a third party to carry out the site check, Dark Sky offers the check in the signal provision or purchase contracts as an option. In addition, the implementation of the approval process can be included in the contracts. The extensive experience in these processes, the regular coordination with the approval authorities and the creation of repeatable processes enable Dark Sky to complete these tasks with a high success rate in a short time.

Dark Sky is compatible with all lighting systems that can be activated and deactivated by external circuitry. This applies to most of the lighting systems currently installed in wind farms, especially older models. It is uneconomical and unsustainable to replace a functioning lighting system only because of uniform ADLS interfaces, which is why Dark Sky has developed a variety of connection options for different lighting models. If a system cannot be made usable after all, Dark Sky also offers solutions for retrofitting and, if necessary, even takes over the maintenance of the new lighting system. These new fires can be monitored via the Dark Sky online portal. Here, components are used that are developed and manufactured by the sister company ENERTRAG Systemtechnik according to current quality standards. And of course, Dark Sky is also compatible with all “ADLS-Ready” offers of the wind energy manufacturers.

Infrared lighting is mandatory for ADLS equipment according to regulations in Germany. In some cases, IR lights are provided with the wind turbine manufacturers’ “ADLS-Ready” offers, but in many cases it is necessary to consider retrofitting during ADLS planning. With Dark Sky, you have a choice: as standard, two IR lights certified according to German AVV are included in the scope of delivery and are set up during installation, but if you have already addressed the issue in another way, you can also deselect this option. Infrared light is not visible, but it is not harmless either: Dark Sky’s IR solution complies with the applicable specifications and is also marked with extensive warning notices. The function of the IR lighting is also monitored via the ADLS system.

Dark Sky terminiert die Installation Ihres ADLS-Systems unmittelbar nach dem Vertragsschluss bzw. nach Vollständigkeit aller Daten und der Klärung der ADLS-Schnittstelle. In der Reihenfolge des Eingangs der Verträge wird dann die Installation vorgenommen, unabhängig von Vorabprüfungen bei Behörden. Mit dem Abschluss der Standortprüfung erhalten Sie dann alle Unterlagen zur Vorlage bei der Genehmigungsbehörde. Für die Installation der ADLS-Systeme hat Dark Sky sich langfristig Kapazitäten bei Serviceanbietern gesichert. Durch die geringe Anzahl der erforderlichen Bauteile und eine vorausschauende Bevorratung sind derzeit noch keine Engpässe in der Materialbeschaffung abzusehen, allerdings empfehlen wir dringend einen zeitnahen Vertragsabschluss um sich frühzeitig Material und Installationskapazität sowie aktuelle Materialpreise zu sichern. Eine Verteuerung bei den Beschaffungskosten ist bereits abzusehenaufgrund unserer Bevorratung müssen wir diese jedoch erst bei späteren Fertigungschargen in die Neuverträge einpreisen. 

As a Dark Sky customer, you can conveniently view the operating data of your ADLS system on the Internet. Our SCADA solution gives you access to all wind turbines equipped with Dark System systems via a single access point, partly with integration of the status data of IR lights or the lighting. If you want to monitor many wind turbines, you have the option of accessing the data via your own API. You can receive reports conveniently by e-mail or via the portal, and data requests from authorities can be fulfilled quickly in this way. In addition, it can be traced and verified at any time whether and when your ADLS system was in operation without errors, that all maintenance was carried out on time and how high the switch-off rate of the lighting was.

Unlike central ADLS systems, with Dark Sky you can simply count on fixed prices per wind turbine. Due to the technical solution, it does not matter whether you equip an entire wind farm or a single wind turbine, the effort, and costs per Windturbine are always the same. Cost advantages for a large contract volume therefore also benefit you if you equip a large and spatially distributed wind turbine portfolio instead of a large wind farm. And individual turbines or small wind farms can also be equipped with ADLS at economic conditions. This makes you independent of other operators, cross-project operator models or intermediaries. You always conclude your contract directly with the ADLS provider.

With Dark Sky you take no risk. The company maintains an ISO 9001 certified quality management system and is audited annually by DEKRA. In the company’s history, 4 different ADLS solutions have already been officially qualified and the transponder system Dark Sky has also successfully undergone a type examination. As some patents exist for the operation of transponder-based Dark Sky systems, these property rights are licensed for the contractual wind turbine within the framework of a licence agreement with the patent holder. In order to further standardise the processes in project implementation, a qualification according to APQP4Wind is also being sought.