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Assessing Wind Power Potential of a Site with CFD
Posted Tue September 09, 2003 @08:29AM
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Application By Christiane Montavon,
ANSYS CFX

The power and energy output of a wind turbine is a cubic function of the wind speed. Doubling the wind speed can mean a substantial increase in the energy output, thereby improving the economic viability of an installation. It is vital to assess the wind power potential of a site with as much accuracy as possible, taking into account seasonal as well as year to year variations in the local wind climate.

The standard way to assess the potential of a site is to measure the on-site wind conditions carefully and consistently for at least a year. Since wind conditions can vary significantly from year to year, measurements are usually correlated with measurements taken at a nearby site, for which a longer-term record is available. The measurements at the site of interest are then 'corrected' for the long-term trend.

At the time of assessing the wind energy potential of the site of Mt-Crosin East, Jakob Vollenweider, of the Swiss utility company JUVENT, considered an alternative option. In addition to a short-term measurement campaign, he commissioned a CFD analysis of the wind conditions on the site, which, together with a long-term data set at the meteorological station of Chasseral a few kilometers away, allowed construction of wind potential maps in the area of Mt-Crosin.


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The wind conditions around the site of Mt-Crosin were simulated using CFX-4. As a result, it was predicted that the wind potential at Mt-Crosin East would exceed that at Mt-Crosin West by about 10%. With the wind farm now in operation on both Mt-Crosin West and East, the energy production data confirm that for the same type of wind turbines, the potential on the East site is 10% higher than on the West site.

"While the trend from our short term measurements on the site indicated that the conditions on Mt-Crosin East would be less favorable than on the West site, the numerical transposition was able to predict the actual opposite trend." stated Jakob Vollenweider of JUVENT. "I'm not sure whether we would have erected the turbines on Mt-Crosin East, if the simulation results had confirmed our wind speed measurements. Use of the numerical approach certainly helped us in making the right business decision."

The use of numerical models to establish relationships between the wind condition at the site of interest and the reference site allowed us take into account non-linear effects such as those associated with very complex topography, roughness and thermal stability. The main advantage of the numerical approach over the measurement campaign is that the spatial density of the information (potential maps) is by far larger and, if a long-term reference data set exists, the assessment using CFX requires far less time than an on-site measurement campaign.

wind turbines
Wind turbines on the Mt-Crosin site. Wind turbine output matched that predicted by CFX quite closely.

wind speed
Wind speed over the region of Chasseral and Mt-Crosin for different atmospheric stability (neutral stratification).

wind speed
Wind speed over the region of Chasseral and Mt-Crosin for different atmospheric stability (stable stratification).

The drastic difference in the wind speed distribution between the two cases, illustrates the significance of taking the atmospheric stability into account.

wind potential
Model-predicted yearly wind power potential map at 45 meters above ground for the Mt-Crosin site. Crosses = wind turbine locations, Squares = measurement stations.

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