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Wind Farms To Receive Future Wind Forecasts 57

Posted by timothy
from the as-well-they-ought dept.
An anonymous reader writes "If the US plans to develop wind farms across the country they need a better way to predict the wind direction and the duration. NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) is looking to do just that. In December, NCAR signed an agreement with Xcel Energy to develop a wind prediction system for the company's wind energy farms in Colorado, Minnesota, and Texas. Experimental forecasts may start as early as May. At present, most wind forecasts rely heavily on statistical forecasting methods, since the numerical weather forecast products available from operational centers are produced with coarse-grid, larger-scale models. The RTFDDA system, however, is designed to provide a birds-eye view of local weather for small areas of special interest, like wind farms, through a multiple level downscaling algorithm." I hope that decentralized weather-data gathering stations (like many people have feeding data to The Weather Underground) would be useful for this purpose.
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Wind Farms To Receive Future Wind Forecasts

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  • Re:Why? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @05:23PM (#26729841)

    What if you could tell the other electrical distributors that the wind farm would be producing a certain amount of electricity for a period of time? Perhaps the other producers wouldn't have to generate as much and cut their generation facilities back to conserve their fuel. They could purchase the "green" energy for resell to their consumers.

  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rev_deaconballs (1071074) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @05:28PM (#26729913)
    Of my experience of main stream articles on research, it often completely misses the true reason behind the research. My guess is that they deemed this story more entertaining due to the interest in alternative energy. If that was the underlying reason behind the grant proposal I am sure they would not get funding for the very reason you mentioned. The data from that research seems highly valuable but for other reasons.
  • by von_rick (944421) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @05:46PM (#26730141) Homepage

    When your primary source of income is based on utilizing wind energy to generate electricity, it makes every sense to look into the wind patterns and predict those in the future.

    The velocity of wind, the climate during those months, etc. is quite crucial in determining how many turbines would be required to maintain a constant supply/demand ratio.

    I'm pretty sure that civil engineers and architects have to predict rain patterns when they are building dams or hydroelectric generation stations.

  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by harperska (1376103) on Wednesday February 04, 2009 @05:47PM (#26730153)
    Actually, it is very useful to know what output your wind farm will have in the next hour or in the next day. Utilities are constantly monitoring their generation resources so they can plan ahead. It would be beneficial to Xcel to know today that tomorrow windfarm A will not be producing as much electricity, so they can make a deal now to buy that electricity from someplace else at better prices than if they suddenly had to buy in that electricity tomorrow when they realized their windfarm wasn't producing. Or maybe, they know that it will be very windy next week, so they make a deal with another utility to sell that extra power that they know they are going to have. Electricity is bought and sold up to months in advance of when it is actually generated, so it is very important to know how much you will be able to generate in that time. It's all economics.

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