RSPE Director's Colloquium "Length and time scales in atmospheric physics: How Windlab optimises wind energy economics"

Date & time

2–3.30am 1 May 2014


Leonard Huxley Lecture Theatre, Leonard Huxley Building [56], ANU


Dr Nathan Steggel
Dr Keith Ayotte

Hear about Windlab's groundbreaking methods minted in the world of science to determine the economics of a windfarm.

Naturally occurring motions in the atmosphere contain length and time scales that span several orders of magnitude.  Nearly all of these motions are significant in the context of extracting energy from the wind.  Near one end of the spectrum turbulent motions created either in the lee of topographic features or in strongly sheared layers within low-level inversions can cause accelerated wear or even catastrophic failures to wind turbine blades and gearboxes.  At the other end of the spectrum, annual or longer variations in wind speed and direction can significantly affect the yield and thereby the economics of a wind farm.

Despite being a commercially focused organisation, Windlab uses a broad range of computational and analytical tools that have been freshly minted in the world of science.  These include eddy-resolving calculations of turbulent flow over topographic features and two point correlation metrics in spectral space to understand the predictability of wind characteristics across a wind farm site. 

The presentation will be divided into two sections. In the first section Nathan Steggel will set the scene introducing Windlab and the pointy end of the industry, “financing & uncertainty”. When financing a wind project the investors and lenders want to know how windy it is, how uncertain the prediction is and how much variability there might be from year to year. Atmospheric Physics plays a fundamental role in defining these quantities and a number of case studies will be presented to demonstrate the additional project value that can be attained from appropriate use of the physics.

In the second section, Keith Ayotte will present some of Windlab’s unique methods and show how Windlab undertakes to turn science into technology within a commercial setting – with a little help from our friends.

More details can be found here

This colloquium is jointly hosted by the Research School of Physics and Engineering (RSPE) and the ANU Energy Change Institute.

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