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Industry News


Researchers to find more wind energy with improved Atlas

The New European Wind Atlas, which is being produced by 2020, will improve wind energy assessments and provide a new standard for where to site wind farms, experts have said.

A report by Erik Lundtang Petersen, a Danish researcher at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) – Department of Wind Energy, and published in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy in September, has detailed how the improvements to models will be achieved.

The report In search of the wind energy potential says that improved competencies on atmospheric flow, together with the guidelines and best practices for the use of data, promise to become a key tool with reduced overall uncertainties for determining wind conditions when producing the Atlas.

Petersen said, “There are many things the new model should be able to handle, so as to be able to predict everywhere with a higher accuracy. In reasonably uncomplicated conditions, it should be better than 3% [uncertainty], and in the complicated regions, it should be better than 10%.”

Accuracy improvements

The world has seen an increased dependency on wind energy over the past 25 years, which is predicted to continue growing. This has created an ever-evolving process to develop a method that can accurately assess a region’s wind energy potential.

The most-used assessment methods today are based on the European Wind Atlas through the use of the Wind Atlas Analysis and Application Program (WAsP).

Recently, the Global Wind Atlas has been published and brought into use for assessment methods. But these, along with those associated with the European Wind Atlas, are still faulty in certain situations.

The existing Atlas, development of which started in 1981, has been found to work well for simple land regions with flat terrain, but to have shortcomings when it comes to mountains and hills. It became commonplace to include a combination of mesoscale and microscale models into the European Wind Atlas.

“The idea is to let the mesoscale models create the statistics for resolutions of 10km or so, and then use the microscale models to continue from there and do the exact prediction of the production of a wind turbine at a specific location,” said Petersen.

Downscaling

The Global Wind Atlas uses a downscaling process, excluding a mesoscale model, to pinpoint sufficient potential locations within areas that have an overall low wind energy potential according to the European Wind Atlas. This model, however, was not made with the intention of identifying prime wind farm locations.

The European Wind Atlas and the Global Wind Atlas have opened up a world of possibilities for the utilization of wind energy, but still experience issues. The wind energy community is hampered by a collection of projects that have large, negative discrepancies between calculated and actual resources and design conditions.

Petersen said one wind farm, after 10 years of operation, has generated only half of the predicted amount of energy. And to make matters worse, there currently exists no well-established method that aims to correct these discrepancies. But the New European Wind Atlas is working to avoid similar instances in the future.

- September 2017

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