Sonic detection and ranging now used to gather wind data for wind farm developers.
The most critical component of wind energy development is siting. Other than looking all majestic perched over a pastoral landscape, what good is a million dollar wind turbine if you don't have any wind? But doing proper wind resource assessments requires time and resources. And when multiple profiles may be needed for a single wind farm, the cost can quickly add up, biting into the project's profit or economic viability.
Sommerville, Massachusetts-based Second Wind has developed a system that measures wind speeds and other data--up to a height of 200 meters in the air--without the need for meteorological tower or guy-wires. In fact, the whole thing fits in the back of a pick-up.
The Triton Sonic Wind Profiler works by sending out acoustic pulses and then listening for the return signal. How those signals behave after bouncing back help create a profile of three important wind resource characteristics: speed, direction, and turbulence.
For a project with a hub height of 80 meters, the blades will sweep an arch that extends 120 meters high. An anemometer on a 60-meter tilt-up mast is only going to be measuring 20% of the swept area. In contrast, Triton captures reliable data from 100% of the swept area.
The larger area covered by the Triton also means wind farm developers can get a fuller picture of local variations in wind quality. In most cases, Triton is receiving, transmitting, and storing data the same day it is installed. The data collected by the Triton can be uploaded via the Globalstar satellite every 10 minutes. The easy access to collected data that Triton and the SkyServe data collection can be used for weather forecasting as well as wind farm prospecting.
Triton wins preliminary nod from NREL
Second Wind is partnering with the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) to study the Triton's performance at the National Wind Technology Center in Golden, Colorado. NREL will correlate the Triton measurements with measurements gathered from an 80-meter meteorological tower. And so far, the Triton is performing up to snuff.
"Our initial assessments indicate that the Triton data can be considered valid as a stand alone device for wind resource assessment and power performance studies," says Dennis Elliott, Principal Scientist, Wind Resource Assessment at NREL.
As the industry moves towards requiring hub height and higher data to reduce uncertainty in turbine farm performance, Triton can quickly generate the kind of robust wind energy data prized by wind farm developers, thus boosting certainty and reducing risk.
To date, Second Wind has deployed 93 Triton units in 13 countries and just yesterday was named one of five finalists for the Excellence in Renewable Energy for the 'Innovation in Renewable Energy' category.
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