The wind is always blowing somewhere, but deciding where to locate a wind farm is a bit more complicated than holding up a wet finger.
The wind is always blowing somewhere, but deciding where to locate a wind farm is a bit more complicated than holding up a wet finger. Now a team of Penn State researchers have a model that can locate the best place for the wind farm and even help with 24-hour predictions of energy output.
"Normally, people planning to build a wind farm will look for good terrain and an average wind speed that is not too strong and not too weak, but consistent," said Guido Cervone, professor of geography, and meteorology and atmospheric science. "We found a more accurate and efficient way to look at wind predictability at specific locations, a key factor when considering building a new wind farm. With fossil fuels and nuclear energy you know exactly how much energy you will have. But wind is not like that."
Location, for general electrical output, is important, but being able to predict how much wind energy the farm will be able to produce 24 hours in the future is also important. Electricity suppliers purchase the energy produced by wind farms and want reliability. Wind farms routinely sell their electrical output to the suppliers, but they would also like to be able to schedule, 24 hours in advance, how much power they will produce.
"Electricity suppliers need to know how much power is available a day ahead," said Cervone, who is also associate director of the Penn State Institute for CyberScience. "They need to have reliable sources because they can't have a blackout. They also do not want to buy more electricity on the spot market because same-day purchases are more expensive."
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Image: This is a wind farm in the Tehachapi mountains of California. (Credit: Stam Shebs)