Instrumented Drone Measurements Help Wind Farmers Site Turbines to Achieve Greater Efficiency
Wind energy is a key part of our global energy future, expanding rapidly throughout the world in onshore and offshore settings. But to go the long term, multi-megawatt wind farming's economic efficiencies need to be maximized and knowing where to place the turbines in the wind farm is a first step.
Without proper and strategic placement of wind turbines, the low-speed wind behind turbines, decreases the efficiency of the wind farm. Wind tunnel tests of been used to guide placement, but their conditions are not always representative of the complex flow behaviors in the field conditions of actual wind farms. So the question is, how to overcome this? Bring on the drones. Design novel instrumented gadgets (drones) with a suite of sensors capable of gathering precise field data in the complex flow and terrain of an actual wind farm can help
This was the approach of researchers from Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich developed novel instrumented drones that made high-resolution measurements of wind speed; wind direction and turbulence encountered in actual wind farms. Results showed detailed flow behaviors around the wind turbines, useful for developing simulation tools that can be used to optimize placement of wind turbines within the wind farms. This offers the turbines the most efficient use of the wind resource.
The researchers represent a collaboration of hardware and software experts including aerodynamics, atmospheric flow physics, energy technology and materials science. They present their findings at the American Physical Societies Division of Fluid Dynamics annual meeting in Portland Oregon.
In wind farms, the power output of wind turbines can decrease by up to 40% if the wind turbines are in the wake of upstream wind turbines, so their intensive efforts to develop simulation tools that can be used to optimize the placement of wind turbines within wind farms. These measurements shall accelerate the development of simulation tools that can be used to optimize the placement of wind turbines in onshore and offshore wind farms.
The key to the current work is a seven sensor, fast response, aerodynamic probe used to make the time resolved when measurements. The probe is based on measuring technology used in conventional power plants, which was developed over the past two decades. Developing tools that can guide decision-making on where to place wind turbines for maximum effect is a desirable goal because through improved efficiencies, clean energy prices will come down and environmental impacts are reduced. It will substantially reduce CO2 emissions and the usage of water in the electricity generation sector and further diversify the electrical energy mix.
The European Union's 2020 energy targets require 15 to 17% electricity from wind, up from 8% at the end of 2013. In the US, energy goals for wind power call for when supplying 10% of the nations electrical demand in 2020. It is further intended to extend the proof of concept established by their drone’s measurements. They will use multiple instrumented drones flying in a swarm to make simultaneous measurements.