Wind energy is captured by converting the power of airflow into electrical power. Large wind energy projects, with significant investment in remote facilities, require advanced studies to assess resources. Establishing conditions prior to beginning construction supports risk assessment and energy production projections. The kinds of data collected and analyzed for these studies include meteorological conditions.
Necessary data is sometimes collected years in advance of turbine construction. This requires the installation of towers, anemometers and wind vanes to measure these resources. Meteorological towers, often 80-meters in height, are erected and instrumentation is installed at 10 meters, 40 meters and 80 meters. Once a tower is erected, equipment like a k-bat acoustic rigging system and data loggers are used to install instruments. Data analysis includes collecting data files, scrubbing the data and binning parameters into specific categories.
Collecting Data Files
Data logging is the process of collecting data points over time. Specialized equipment measures and stores wind speed and direction every few seconds. These data points are saved to some kind of digital media that is installed in the data logger. A technician will visit the site regularly and either remove the digital media and replace it with blank media or connect an external device and download data to that device.
Next, the raw information contained within files is reviewed by a technician or analyst. These data often include incorrect readings or gaps of missing information that must be accounted for and removed. Scrubbing is the process of accomplishing these tasks and may also include summarizing, formatting and averaging of the information.
This process further analyzes wind speed and direction by dividing it up into specific segments. Segmentation is usually done by dividing data into groups comprised of the wind speeds within specific ranges (i.e. 0 meters per second to 3 meters per second). This allows for the calculation of electrical energy output from a given wind turbine under those conditions. Summarizing this information allows project planners and owners to determine total project output and ultimately, the economics of the site.
Renewable energy projects are becoming a larger part of energy production around the world. Before large facilities are constructed, understanding the resource helps ensure project success over time. Collecting accurate meteorological data is a vital piece of this process.
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