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Research Project to Map Wind Flow Data Improving Wind Farm Performance

Posted on the 22 August 2013 by Dailyfusion @dailyfusion
A wind farm in Sonora County, Texas. (Credit: Flickr @ Matthew Rutledge wind farm in Sonora County, Texas. (Credit: Flickr @ Matthew Rutledge

A group of scientists at Texas Tech University’s National Wind Institute (NWI) thinks that most wind farms are operating at less than their potential. In a new two-fold study, Texas Tech research professor Brian Hirth and NWI director John Schroeder will use a $385,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to work with wind farm operators in the Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and southwest Kansas region to study wind flows through various wind farms.

In addition to power, turbines also produce wake. The disturbance, while invisible to the naked eye, interferes with the atmosphere downstream. These turbine-to-turbine interactions along with other wind farm complex wind flows are poorly documented.  Currently, there is a shortage of real-time wind data fed into farm control systems, and individual turbines are limited in their response to rapidly changing wind conditions. The result can be damage to the turbines and a decrease in overall wind farm efficiency.

The proposal titled “Building the Foundation for Smart Wind Farms through First-Order Controls Opportunities based on Real-Time Observations of Complex Flows” will utilize both TTUKa radars, with the study to last three years, Schroeder said.

Hirth said the radar measurements will provide accurate and timely wind maps which can be used in real time to transform how wind farms operate to ultimately improve their performance.

They will also track what happens to the flow field through wind farms when wind farm operators adjust the turbine’s angle and rotation in reaction to wind events.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Texas Tech to remain on the forefront of wind energy research,” Hirth said. “It’s a unique opportunity to collaborate with industry to develop the first generation of smart wind farms.”

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