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Wind resource assessment and

siting- a wider perspective

This article aims to provide a broad overview of of wind power in these regions has been scarce
wind resource assessment and siting around the until now, but this may well be changing. The
world. For convenience, the world has been di- barriers for widespread application of wind en-
vided into .a number of regions according to their ergy in the Arctic were recently identified2 and
wind climate. The characteristics of these re- comprise both technological, economic, social
gions are described in some detail and so is the and institutional issues. However, many of these
ability of state-of-the-art models to predict the barriers are not unique to the Arctic - or even
wind resources. Where possible, examples of particularly severe here.
wind resource estimation studies are also given. One important barrier, though, is the lack of
(The views and information presented in this adequate knowledge of the wind resources in
article are biased towards what we ourselves candidate regions. Apart from the northern parts
have been working with.) of Sweden and Finland, little seems to have been
The wind resource of a site is the expected done with respect to a systematic mapping of
mean wind climate - or the power production of Arctic and sub-Arctic wind resources. Moreover,
a wind turbine located at that site - over the next it is not clear to what extent the methods devel-
10-20 years. If one is interested in the wind re- oped for wind resource estimation and siting in
sources at one or more sites, like the locations the temperate climates will apply to these regions.
of wind turbines in a wind farm, at least two In general, the density of meteorological sta-
things are needed: high-quality nearby wind tions in the Arctic is low; however, this may not
measurements (preferably on-site) and a micro- be a problem since measurements are often taken
siting model which can estimate the spatial dis- in or close to the settlements where the power is
tribution of the wind resource over the entire needed. More importantly, the quality of the wind
area. Using only measurements from a nearby measurements is often not known and neither is
mast (e.g. at a meteorological station) will cause the applicability of current wind resource esti-
the local effects on the flow around that mast to mation meth9ds. Snow, ice and subzero tempera-
be 'transported' to the site in question; this pro- tures not only make it difficult to make reliable
cedure will obviously result in erroneous results. wind measurements, they also change the rough-
If, for example, the meteorological mast is located ness of the terrain considerably from season to
near a building - which will reduce the wind season. Furthermore, the cooling of the lower
speed of the flow coming from that direction - layers of the atmosphere leads to local wind flows
this reduction is almost certainly not found at of a limited extent. Consequently, it is often very
the site. It can therefore be seen that models have difficult to extrapolate the measured wind cli-
to be used in order to obtain correct estimates of mate over more than a few kilometres. .
the wind resource at any site. Recent investigations in Greenland suggest
Basically, two modelling approaches exist: that wind power generation may be a viable al-
models based on statistical relations between the ternative or supplement to more traditional ways
two sites and models based on the physical laws of generating electricity. They also show that the
governing the wind flow. An example of the first increased costs of constructing and maintaining
kind of model is the measure-correlate-predict wind turbines in the Arctic may be at least par-
(MCP) method which correlates two sets of meas- tially offset by the generally higher costs of elec-
urements - one taken at the site of interest and tricity generation in these areas.
one taken at a station with a long wind speed
and direction record. An example of the physi- TEMPERATE PLAINS AND THE
cal approach is the WAsP model, 1 though numer- WESTERLIES
ous other models exist as well.
The temperate plains are characterised by large-
THE ARCTIC scale low-pressure systems moving over the ar-
eas. These systems give rise to powerful storms
As wind turbine technology matures, the poten- and - because of the regularity of these systems
tial for wind power generation in more marginal - a steady wind climate. In wind energy terms
areas of the earth - including the Arctic and sub- . this means that the potential and the reliability
Arctic - has been recognized. The exploitation · of predictions of the production can be expected


Met. station

Figure 1. Wind power generation in Greenland and other Arctic settings may
benefi{ from the terrain-induced speed-up of the wind and also the occurrence
of smooth terrain surfaces, like water, snow and ice
to be high. Another characteristic of at least the The European Wind Atlas methodology has
European and American parts is that these are also been used in New Zealand, but due to lack
also the areas with the highest growth in the in- of data no firm conclusions can be drawn as of
stalled capacity of renewables, but also with the now. Australia has also seen some applications
highest production of co2 and with the most in- of the methodology and there is extensive expe-
tense competition from other sources of energy rience in using the method with good agreement
(coal, gas, nuclear etc.). found in different parts of the country.
The European Wind Atlas methodology was In conclusion, there is no doubt that very re-
developed with these areas in mind. The method liable estimates of the long-term wind energy po-
is used to estimate the expected production at a tential can be obtained in most of the temperate
given site using wind data from up to lOOkm regions - where the terrain is not too complex.
away. Since, generally speaking, the meteorologi-
cal network is very dense in these areas, the wind DESERTS AND SEMI-ARID AREAS
energy potential at virtually any location can
be calculated. Furthermore, numerous studies From a wind energy point of view these regions
have shown that the method gives very reliable have a number of advantages: the 'pressure' on
results for these regions. This is fortunate since the land is often very low, access is easy, and
recently problems with obtaining planning per- construction work relatively simple. Also, the
mission have arisen, meaning that accurate sit- surface roughness tends to be low and uniform,
ing methods must be used to meet the investor's so siting can be done primarily with optimiza-
as well as the planning authorities' wishes and tion of the power production - or minimization
demands. of cost - in mind. Such areas could provide space
As a consequence of the above it is possible to for large-scale utilization of wind energy, pro-
estimate the expected wind power potential at vided they are favoured by a healthy wind cli-
almost any location, using either nearby mate and located not to far from places where
measurements or data from the European Wind power is in demand.
Atlas (see also map on page 186). Unfortunately, like in other sparsely popu-
In Canada, a wind atlas similar to the lated regions, the meteorological network is very
European is being developed and, because of the coarse and the wind climate is therefore not
geographical likeness of the two regions, the known in great detail at present. The physics of
method is expected to work well here, too. Before the flows in these dry regions of high solar
the European Wind Atlas was established, the insolation and little vegetation are also quite
Batelle Laboratories constructed a map of different from, for example, the temperate re-
worldwide wind resources. 3 Although this study gions - where most of the models and techniques
provides a good first guess, also of the for wind resource estimation and siting were
European resources, it lacks resolution over developed and tested. However, studies c'arried
the land areas. out in, for instance, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Israel,
In USA proper, the 'wind rush, in California Syria and Jordan should lead to a better under-
gave a new start to wind energy worldwide. The standing of the limits of contemporary models
Californian terrain is dominated by local effects, in these regions.
such as sea-breeze flows, making the potential
very hard to predict. A second 'wind rush' in the THE TROPICS
USA is now taking place in the very windy
central states. These areas are in many ways The tropical regions are dominated by seasonal
quite similar to the European landscapes, wind systems, like the monsoon and the trade
promising much higher reliability in the wind winds. In many areas the measuring network is
resource estimates. dense and dates back many years, providing long


records, very useful for wind energy purposes. from small islands, which are few and far be-
These regions are also characterized by a high tween, and the so-called COADS database.
demand for power, with many people still with- COADS is short for the Comprehensive Ocean-
out electricity. A very high growth rate of the Atmosphere Data Set and is a result of a con-
population is also found in these areas, result- tinuing cooperation between several American
ing in even higher demand for electricity in the institutions. 4 The data set contains measure-
near future. Therefore, an increasing interest in ments of the wind speed and direction as reported
all kinds of energy, including wind energy, exists. from ships crossing the oceans. This gives a huge,
Because of the aforementioned dense network albeit in some areas sparse, data set coveridg
quite reliable estimates of the expected wind re- most of the oceans. The data set has been com-
source can be given for many tropical areas, the pared to coastal measurements in some areas
task being made slightly difficult by the local ther- and the overall agreement seems to be good.
mally driven wind systems found in some areas. Other sources of information are available for
Studies along the lines laid out in the Euro- certain limited offshore areas, e.g. the wind at-
pean Wind Atlas have been carried out in many las for the North Sea. 5 Also, a study covering
places. A couple of examples are in Somalia and the Baltic Sea is in progress and a wind atlas
India, which are both dominated by monsoon will be produced within the next year.
type flows. Here regional studies have been car-
ried out, and the Wind Atlas method has been COASTAL AREAS
verified by comparing the predicted production
of wind farms to actual production. India also Land sites close to the coastline have always
has a very comprehensive database of meteoro- been in demand for wind power generation,
logical measurements. because of the generally high wind resource
On the Cape Verde Islands a wind atlas has compared to (flat) inland sites in the same wind
also been compiled and again the method has regime. This demand, as well as many other
been verified, with good results using actual out- interests in the coastal land area, have led to
put from wind farms. a decrease in the availability of such sites, and
near-coastal offshore sites have therefore
OPEN SEA become more attractive. Taking 'near-
coastal offshore' to mean the offshore area
The open sea is in general characterised by a very where the influence of the land on the wind
high wind potential, but a detailed and reliable flow is still present, this zone is of the ord_er of
map of these resources is very hard to produce lOkm wide.
because of the very sparse measuring network. Several conflicting constraints must be taken
An overview of the offshore resources is given into account in the siting of offshore wind tur-
in the map published by the Batelle Laborato- bines. Evidently, the cost of construction, grid
ries in the USA. 3 conn,ection ap.d maintenance transport will in-
There are two sources of information avail- crease with increasing distance from the coast-
able for estimating the resource: measurements line - but so will the available wind resource.

Figure 2. The estimated wind

power production in the area of the
Vindeby wind farm, Denmark.
Here, westerly and south-westerly
winds predominate, so the orien-
tation and proximity of the coast-
line become very important factors
in the siting of wind turbines


AeroCraft Because of the very complex nature of the ter-

rain - as well as the fact that the winds are often
dominated by local effects, driven by, for exam-
Energietechnik GmbH ple, local differences in the temperature - it is
very difficult to model the wind flow. An EU
Union) initiative funded under the JOULE Pro-
High quality wind ge_nerators: gramme is trying to address this problem by com-
bining micro-siting models with models
modelling the flow over a larger area, typicaUy
hundreds of kilometres. This approach is being
120W tested for Ireland, Northern Portugal, Central
Italy and Crete and is indeed showing promising
results in these areas.
In this article we have briefly described in wind
750W energy terms most of the areas covering the
earth. By examples we have shown that present
3000W day state-of-the-art models are indeed able to
predict the wind resource in many areas. It has
5000W also been indicated that in some areas the poten-
tial can still not be satisfactorily estimated. This
means that wind energy meteorology today has
two main tasks: first, to educate the users on the
Tel. (+49) 4261 3688 models currently available - their proper use and
known limitations - and, secondly, to conduct
Fax. (+49) 4~61 82798 research into the fields where knowledge is still
missing. Part of this research will be to collect
Hoffeldstr. 20 * D-27356 Rotenburg * Germany and evaluate the results of the numerous studies
that have already been carried out. 6

Costs can be reduced by erecting the turbines ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

closer to the coastline, but here visual impact
and interference with other activities may be The work by the Ris0 National Laboratory on
(too) high. Because the wind resources (and costs) wind energy resources has, since 1981, been sup-
vary considerably over small horizontal dis- ported by the Commission of the European Un-
tances, there is an increasing demand for accu- ion, Directorate-General for Science, Research
rate offshore wind resource estimates. In and Development.
particular, this presents a challenge to the physi-
cal models, since offshore wind measurements very Lars Landberg, Niels Mortensen and Erik
rarely exist and would be very costly to perform. Petersen work in the Department of
The world's first offshore wind farm was con- Meteorology and Wind Energy,
structed in 1990-1 near Vindeby, Denmark (Fig- Ris0 National Laboratory, Denmark
ure 2). Here, the meteorology of the coastal zone
is monitored in great detail from one onshore and REFERENCES
two offshore masts. These data will be used to
evaluate and further develop models for the pre- 1. Troen I, Petersen EL (1989). European Wind Atlas.
diction of offshore wind climates, leading to im- Ris0 National Laboratory, Roskilde, Denmark.
2. Lundsager P, Ahm P., Madsen B, Krogsgaard P (1993).
proved predictions of the wind power potential Wind power in arctic regions. An investigation and a
of this very promising region. seminar. 3-4June 1993. Ris0-l-709(EN), Ris0National
Laboratory, Roskilde, Denmark.
MOUNTAINS 3. World Meteorological Organization (1981). Meteoro-
logical aspects of the utilization of wind as an energy
source. WMO Technical Note 175, World Meteoro-
In mountainous regions the topography enhances logical Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
the existing wind potential, resulting in very high 4. Diaz HF,,Wolter K, Woodruff SD (1992). Proceedings
potentials. However, the exact magnitude of this of the International COADS Workshop, Boulder,
potential is difficult to assess accurately, because Colorado, 13-15 January 1992. US Department of
Commerce, Boulder, CO, USA.
mountainous areas are often very thinly popu- 5. B0rresen JA (1987). Wind atlas for the North Sea and
lated and as a consequence have a very sparse the Norwegian Sea. Norwegian University Press and
wind measuring network. Furthermore, the re- Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo.
sources may of course be costly to develop due to 6. Petersen EL, Mortensen NG, Landberg L (1994). Wind
the lack of infrastructure. resource estimation and siting of wind turbines. In:
European Directory of Renewable Energy Suppliers
and Services 1.994. James & James, London.