A Colorado-based research team recently completed a major study to learn more about the wake effect – one of wind power's biggest unknowns – and its impact on turbine productivity.
The study utilized Second Wind's Triton Sonic Wind Profiler, one of several remote sensing technologies that the Turbine Wake and Inflow Characterization Study used to create a detailed, 3D model of the turbulence caused when wind passes over rotating turbine blades.
The project's goal is to understand how to enhance wind farms' productivity, which can be undermined by turbulence that damages turbines downstream. For the project, turbine inflow and wake observations will be integrated into a wind energy forecasting model, Second Wind explains. Understanding how gusts and rapid changes in wind direction affect wind turbine operations will enable turbine manufacturers to improve design standards and increase efficiency, which will ultimately reduce the cost of energy, the company adds.
The study is aimed at capturing 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 in front of and behind a multi-megawatt wind turbine.
Triton, along with tower-mounted sensors and other remote sensing systems, profiles the winds in front of and behind a 130-meter high wind turbine located at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) National Wind Technology center near Boulder, Colo. NREL, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have teamed up to conduct the study.
"Turbine wake effects are a huge unknown in the wind industry," says Second Wind CEO Larry Letteney. "To fully realize the potential of wind energy, with large-scale wind farms, we need to know how turbulence from one turbine affects those around it. We're confident that Triton will make a significant contribution to understanding wind farm conditions, which will lead to a more productive and efficient wind power industry."