ESRL Quarterly Newsletter - Fall 2010

Testing the Wind

NOAA and Industry Partner to Improve Wind Energy Production

ESRL researchers will work closely with two wind forecasting companies during the next year, to see if high-resolution observations and forecasts of wind can improve the operation of wind farms and electric grid systems.

In September,  the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $3.4 million to AWS Truepower, LLC, of Albany, NY, and WindLogics, Inc., of Saint Paul, MN, to evaluate the benefit of new observations and forecast techniques developed by NOAA, and to provide better forecasts for wind power production.

In partnership with those companies and the DOE, ESRL and NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory will deploy custom instruments, including wind-profiling radars, to wind farms to collect detailed meteorological data. ESRL scientists will assimilate those data into high-resolution weather forecast models focused on the needs of the wind power industry—including turbine-height winds.

Researchers at NOAA, AWS, and Windlogics will then evaluate whether the new observations and high-resolution modeling efforts improve forecasts—and how the industry uses those forecasts.
To meet consumer power demand, grid operators need more accurate information about power generation by wind turbines, said Melinda Marquis (ESRL Director’s Office) who is leading the renewable energy project. With better information about the contributions of wind farms, grid operators may be able to rely less on traditional power sources—from coal to natural gas—that emit climate-warming greenhouse gases. More: