Seeking a data model to match turbine advances

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With turbines becoming more innovative, how can developers collect accurate wind data that is centered around lower heights and limited points of measurement?

In order to sustain wind power’s leadership in renewable energy, developers and operators will need to build and manage wind farms that deliver competitive results over the long term. The most important driver of wind farm competitiveness lies at the intersection between a continuously variable wind resource and the efficient, turbine-based conversion of that wind to electricity.

To that end, investors have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into turbine design, development and production to support the growing appetite for wind energy. Advances in turbine design have resulted in larger turbines with higher hub heights and longer rotors to capture more energy from the winds that blow at higher heights. Enercon and Vestas, for example, have turbines that stand at least 100 meters from ground to hub, and other manufacturers are expected to follow suit.

Larger turbines have the potential to efficiently harvest more energy per site, assuming there is a strong understanding of the wind conditions at the higher heights of operation. Herein lie an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity is for more sites to be developed and be more productive based on the innovations of the turbine manufacturers. The challenge is that the current process for collecting wind data is centered around lower heights and limited points of measurement. The key to the wind industry’s long-term leadership is an integrated approach that combines advances in wind turbine technology with a new set of best practices for wind measurement and wind information management.

Wind data that can predict a wind farm’s long-term performance is still not viewed as a strategic asset. Until it is, wind farm developers and operators will not fully realize the potential of their investments in property and turbines. The wind power industry needs a new model for integrating multiple wind data streams into a single strategic view that encompasses every phase of a wind farm’s development from prospecting through operation. This data can then be the basis for future operational and optimization decisions.

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