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Getting The Best Out Of Wind

A NIWA research project is gathering valuable information that will help power companies decide where they can get the best results from wind farms.

The project is looking particularly at wind speeds and turbulence.

“It’s not just that we’re getting data showing which sites can be good for wind farms, but that we’re determining wind speeds more precisely,” National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) scientist Steve Reid says.

“This improves the basis for investing in wind farms, which can take a lot of money, and you’ve got to have pretty good justification for,” Dr Reid says of the project, an investment by the Public Good Science Fund.

“Electricity generation is a competitive business, and for wind energy to be considered alongside other forms of generation, there needs to be relative certainty about the energy available.”

The project had built up and extended what is known about wind, predicting output energy, power quality, mechanical stresses of wind turbines and turbulence characteristics.

Dr Reid says an important part of the project was finding out the kind of wind characteristics that occurred at the tip of wind turbine blades. That was done with acoustic sounders, which transmit and receive sound pulses, and are placed in the tips of the blades.

“Wind-speed over the area swept by the turbine blades is the most important parameter for resource evaluation. With increasing turbine sizes, new technology for measuring winds in the blade area is needed. This is above the heights reached by most mast systems, which go to only about 50 metres.”

The sounder had been used on a hill in North Canterbury in co-operation with a local power company.

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