The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.
Untitled Document

In the Wake of the Wind

On the Front Range within the Rocky Mountains, prevailing winds sweep eastward over the mountains smack into the National Wind Technology Center.

Several wind turbines, some taller than a 40-story building, spin and hum at the site, just outside of Boulder, Colo., waiting for an experiment to start in the next month.

The turbines not only produce power, they produce wakes – similar to what forms in bodies of water – that are invisible ripples and waves and other disturbances in the atmosphere downstream that can damage turbines and decrease efficiency. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers and collaborators will launch a study of those wakes this month, with an eye toward improving the efficiency of wind farms.

The scientists also will collect valuable data that will help validate the wind flow models developed at Livermore and other laboratories and universities

"This study is part of a larger suite of observational and model development efforts under way at LLNL to help attain aggressive state and national targets for renewable energy deployment," said Jeff Mirocha of LLNL. "This field campaign dovetails with ongoing observational studies at our Site 300 that are focused on understanding the complex wind patterns occurring in hilly, coastally influenced locations, which is similar to much of California's wind resource."

Livermore is working with the University of Colorado, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The Laboratory also has been working on numerical weather prediction models to predict power generated by the wind, so that wind farms can operate more efficiently while providing more power to the nation's hungry power grids. Predictive time frames range from an hour ahead to days ahead of time.

The new project entails experiments that will help make a detailed study of wakes created by wind turbines. Those profiles could help turbine and wind farm developers improve layout and design.

"The wakes can damage turbines and affect turbine efficiency," said Julie Lundquist, a University of Colorado assistant professor who helped develop the models while at LLNL.

The study is aimed at an improved understanding and characterization of inflow conditions on turbines in complex terrain that would help engineers better understand, model, and design for turbine loading, turbine performance and power plant performance. The goal is to integrate advanced observational capabilities with innovative approaches to atmospheric simulation.

Researchers will collect meteorological data for validation of turbine wake models in a range of atmospheric stability conditions, including wind speed, wind direction and streamwise variance profiles.

Bob Banta, atmospheric scientist with NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory, has spent the last several years using a sophisticated instrument – a high-resolution, scanning dopplar lidar – to make three-dimensional portraits of wind speeds and directions in the atmosphere. For the wind technology site project, the research team aims to capture turbulence and other wake effects in a broad wedge of air up to 7 km (4.3 miles) long and 1 km (3,280 feet) high.

The team will use the scanning lidar to make a detailed look at the atmosphere in front of and behind one of the large turbines on the NREL site: a 2.3-megawatt tower that stretches 100 m (328 ft) high to the central hub and 145 m (492 feet) to the top of a blade.

The researchers hope to capture the effects of ramp up and ramp down events, when winds suddenly gust high or die down, and they will gather data on what happens downstream when winds shift direction quickly.

"This generation of wind turbines is stretching up into a complicated part of the atmosphere," Lundquist said. "If we can understand how gusts and rapid changes in wind direction affect turbine operations and how turbine wakes behave, we can improve design standards, increase efficiency, and reduce the cost of energy,"

According to the American Wind Energy Association, wind energy made up 2.3 percent of U.S. electricity by the end of 2010, up from 1.8 percent a year ago. Researchers have argued that to attain the Department of Energy goal of "20 percent by 2030," the turbulent lower atmosphere – and its effects on turbines and turbine arrays – must be better understood.

Anne M. Stark is a Public Information Officer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LNNL).

Untitled Document

RELATED ARTICLES

Fresh blow for wind power in Australia

Diarmaid Williams

Another blow has been dealt to the wind power industry in Australia with the news that a Senate committee has advocated new limits to the subsidization of the technology.

World Moves Toward 100 Percent Renewable Energy – First Electricity, Then Heating/Cooling, and Finally Transportation

Junko Movellan, Correspondent The exclusive use of energy from renewable resources in at least one sector has now become a feasible goal for 8 countries. Diane Moss, Founding Director of Renewables 100 Policy Institute, discussed this remarkable develop...

How Wind Turbines are Becoming Photocopiers – and the Cost to Investors

Guy Auger, Greensolver We all know that the wind turbine market in Europe is an oligopoly. Power resides in the hands of very few players — and, in the offshore space, just five manufacturers (OEMs) account for 100 percent of the turbines that we...

Siemens receives onshore wind orders for UK and Ireland

Diarmaid Williams

Siemens Wind Power and Renewables Division has been awarded orders, which when in place, will be capable of delivering power to over 100,000 households across Britain and Ireland.

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 4
1507REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Doing Business in South Africa – in partnership with GWEC, the Glob...

Wind Energy in South Africa has been expanding dramatically, growing fro...

2015 AREDAY Summit

The 12th Annual AREDAY Summit, August 8-13th in Snowmass Colorado. Engag...

StartUp Green

AREI, American Renewable Energy Institute, in partnership with ...

COMPANY BLOGS

Clean Energy Patents Maintain High Levels in First Quarter, Solar L...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies from the first quarter of 201...

Fact Check: AWEA represents American wind power

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) is proud of its members for ...

Koch Professor drops his Koch title, still makes same errors plus s...

The Koch Professor’s title isn’t the only thing that’s...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS