Research provides reliable data for wind power
New technologies are needed to fully exploit the potential
Brussels, 12 March 2009
To fully exploit wind energy in Europe, better data about conditions is needed. Whilst the European Commission supports research projects working on new technologies to gather excellent wind power data, necessary data is often only commercially available hampering full exploitation and scientific progress. The issue will be discussed in Marseille at the upcoming European Wind Energy Conference (EWEC: 16–19 March 2009).
The European Technology Platform Wind (TPWind) – an industry-led initiative launched in October 2006 during the 6th European Framework Programme for Research - has identified the clearance of wind conditions as one of its R&D priorities in order to implement its 2030 vision for the wind energy sector. Current techniques must be improved so that, given the geographic coordinates of any wind farm, predictions within a 3% margin can be made.
The European Industrial Wind Initiative (EWI) – one of the six first priority European Industrial Initiatives set to implement the Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) proposed by the European Commission – states the importance of an updated European Wind Atlas. They calculate the cost of producing a European wind resource map including measurement campaigns between 2009 and 2015 at about €175 million.
Several research projects are underway to improve the technology of wind measuring and are producing excellent wind maps. One of these is UpWind, the largest ever European Project on Wind Energy Research. The project has a total budget of €14.5 million (ending 2011) and at present comprises 44 participants who are beginning to produce their first results. One example is the development of a LIDAR system for remote measurements of wind speed characteristics. LIDAR is comparable to the well known radar system, but uses electromagnetic waves in the visible light spectrum instead of waves in the high-frequency radio spectrum.
The uncertainty of the measurements has been improved from approximately 5% to 1%. In this way the sector is getting access to a relatively cheap method of measuring wind velocity characteristics without using expensive towers. The method is very flexible and may also be used to determine the wind field in front of the rotor. To that end LIDAR will be installed in the hub of wind turbine rotors. Because of this success more manufacturers have entered the market. As a spin off, one of the UpWind participants will carry out a comparative test of some 25 LIDARs at a test station in the north of Jutland.
The POW'WOW project (€1 million, ending March 2009) deals with the topic of wake measurement and modelling within and downwind of wind farms. They are building up the Virtual Laboratory for Wakes (Wake ViLab) to provide state-of-the-art evaluation on wake modelling. The task emphasises models and evaluation results from ongoing national and EU research projects. Nevertheless a major issue at present is that offshore resource and wake data (SCADA) is mainly commercial which can make further model development and evaluation difficult. Data from smaller wind farms are available and have been provided in the Wake ViLab. In order to address the problem of wake studies in large offshore wind farms, the partners from the project have identified test cases and time series and data have been made available in the Wake ViLab. The availability of these data has been advertised at a number of international conferences and workshops.
Finally, as the value of wind energy greatly depends on its predictability, the FP7 SAFEWIND project was launched in September 2008 to cover this important concern, in particular in extreme conditions. It will run until 2012 and is funded to the tune of €3.9 million.
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