February 09, 2011
3TIER®, a global leader in renewable energy information services, today released a wind performance map for the fourth quarter of 2010. The map illustrates that wind speeds were above their seasonal average for large areas across the US. This increase is largely due to the La Niña phenomena, and closely matches the wind anomaly forecast 3TIER released in early October.
“While there are limitations to how precisely we can forecast wind speeds on a 3-month time horizon, a simple look at the map reveals that a great deal of operational intelligence can be gathered from the forecast,” said Michael Grundmeyer, 3TIER’s vice president of business development. “With this forecast, operators and energy marketers can do integrated resource planning as well as purchase and sell energy and capacity. It also allows financiers and owners to perform portfolio analysis across regions and quickly view the effects of weather anomalies on both existing and proposed investments.”
The wind forecast maps 3TIER released in early October for the fourth quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 displayed the probability that wind speeds would exceed their long-term averages. The maps released today show the variance in wind speeds that 3TIER forecasted at the time as well as the variance that actually occurred. In comparing the maps, the areas where 3TIER forecasted a significantly increased chance of either above or below normal wind speeds match closely with the actual variance map.
“3TIER’s fourth quarter wind speed forecast and actual maps look quite similar, demonstrating a fairly high degree of skill in mapping the spatial footprint of La Niña’s impact,” said Dr. Scott Eichelberger, 3TIER’s director of assessment. “Anomalies were more pronounced in some areas than we forecasted, and our forecast missed the mark in a few areas due to a strongly negative Arctic Oscillation, but overall this effort demonstrates that our long-term forecast can be a very valuable tool for managing wind resource risk.”
The actual variance map shows that wind speeds were 5%-30% above their long-term averages across the western and northeastern US and the Great Lakes and eastern provinces of Canada. Most of the Texas wind corridor also saw wind speeds that were about 5% above normal. Meanwhile, much of the upper Midwest and central Canada experienced wind speeds that were 5%-15% below normal.
The La Niña phenomenon is characterized by a cooling of surface water temperatures in the eastern, tropical Pacific Ocean and generally causes above average wind speeds in the western US and below average wind speeds in western Texas, the Midwest and the northeast seaboard. While La Niña is caused by oceanic shifts and can be predicted months in advance, the Arctic Oscillation is caused by opposing atmospheric pressure patterns and its predictability is limited to weeks. In December 2010, a strongly negative Arctic Oscillation resulted in stormier weather and stronger wind speeds in the northeastern US and Canada. As a result, 3TIER was least accurate in that region.
In October, 3TIER forecasted an even more pronounced increase in wind speeds for the first quarter of 2011 across virtually all of the United States and eastern and western Canada due to a strengthening of the La Niña event.
"A forecast with a 6-9 month time horizon is much more of a challenge and is prone to greater error. Right now large-scale atmospheric conditions are driven by the continuation of a moderate La Niña event,” said Dr. Eichelberger. “However, this event is expected to weaken and regional fluctuations caused by the less predictable Arctic Oscillation may cause anomalous wind speeds in the Northeast.”
To learn more about 3TIER, please visit: http://www.3tier.com.
Founded in 1999, 3TIER is one of the largest independent providers of wind, solar and hydro energy assessment and power forecasting worldwide. People around the world turn to 3TIER when they want the best scientific information to make decisions about renewable energy projects — from the prospecting stage to operations. For more information, visit www.3tier.com.
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