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Future developments

Wind speed and energy prediction are, and will remain, a very critical part of the development of a wind farm.  Enormous investments are made, based on the estimates provided.  Lender and investor confidence must be maintained or improved.  Improvement in these techniques is, therefore, an important part of European and global wind energy development.  Below, is a list of important topics for future development:

  • An intention of this chapter is to disseminate non-wind analysis specialists involved in the wind industry, some of the challenges of predicting the future output of wind farms.  Speaking in general terms, for a typical site, the energy production level with a 90% chance of being exceeded (P90 level) may well be 15% below the central estimate energy production (P50 level).  Put another way, 1 in 10 projects analysed may be expected to have an energy production in the long term, more than 15% below the central estimate level. Of course, in a similar way, statistically 1 in 10 projects may be expected to exceed the central estimate production level by 15%.   The challenge is therefore to improve the accuracy of the models and methods.   
  • In addition to this, the production will vary substantially from year to year, due to annual variations in the wind regime.  Also, the relatively high levels of availability met by most modern wind farms only happen if the right O&M structures and budgets are in place.  Neglect in these areas can cause wind farms to produce significantly less than their potential output.  
  • To a high degree, the accuracy of the pre-construction prediction of the energy production of a wind farm is in the hands of the owner.  The better the site wind measurements, the lower the uncertainty and the lower the likelihood of surprises once the wind farm is operational.  It is recommended that in-house or externalexperts are used to carefully design a monitoring strategy for all wind farm developments, and that this area of a development is adequately funded.  
  • Assessment methods for wind farms are continuously improving and key areas of development include:
    • The use of increasingly sophisticated flow modelling techniques;
    • further validation of wake models;
    • optimisation of the use of data sources that are not on the wind farm site to adjust site data to be representative of the long term;
    • the use of remote sensing techniques to measure wind speed;
    • improved estimates of ‘loss factors;’
    • more sophisticated approaches to uncertainty analysis.  
  • A central principle of the development of improved scientific predictions is the refinement and validation of models against measured data.  Wind farm SCADA systems are recording huge volumes of data.  It is considered that the quality of SCADA data recorded at wind farm sites is improving, but needs further improvement.  Also, SCADA data from wind farms contains information that will allow the further validation of models and assumptions used in energy assessment.  The challenge for the industry is to focus on understanding what that data tells us and, where appropriate, amending models, techniques and assumptions.  
  • The wind industry needs to work more closely with climate change scientists to better understand how weather patterns may change in the future.
  • High quality short-term forecasting techniques are available now.  The initial challenge for the industry is to extract the maximum value from the existing state-of-the-art forecast models.  The use of such techniques to address some of the fundamental challenges for the integration of wind energy into the grid is patchy.  In parallel with the increased use of existing tools, continued effort needs to be focused on improving the technology.
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