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Home > Feature Articles > Alternative Energy Solutions > Wind Power for Alternative Energy Sourcing

Measuring Wind Speed for Wind Power Generation

Wind speed is a key metric for wind energy generation. Here's a new map that shows increasing speeds for much of the US. Swings in wind performance are common and part of the inherent nature of the resource.

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3TIER Q2-2010 Performance Map Shows Wind Speeds are on the Rise Across US

3TIER,® a global leader in renewable energy information services, released its Quarterly Wind Performance Map (July, 2010) showing that the intensity of the wind in the second quarter of 2010 has increased significantly in large portions of the United States. This upswing in wind is in marked contrast to the depressed average wind speeds experienced during the last quarter of 2009 and extending into the first quarter of 2010.

These abnormally low wind speed conditions were the result of a long-lasting El Niño effect coupled with a strong, negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) event.

“Swings in wind performance are common and part of the inherent nature of the resource,” said Dr. Scott Eichelberger, 3TIER director of advanced applications. “It’s clear that both the El Niño and NAO phenomena have weakened significantly and continue to wane. As a result, above average wind speeds have been experienced in the majority of the western US, extending from Washington state to Texas. Wind speeds in other areas of the U.S. were much closer to their long-term average.”

3TIER generated the Q2 Wind Performance Map using observational data and numerical weather prediction modeling. The map illustrates departures from the long-term mean that range from -10 percent to +10 percent, showing a pattern that is indicative of the climate state during the quarter. It provides an indication of how wind farms should have performed relative to their long-term production average based on their location.

As a result of the weakening El Niño and NAO effects, the second quarter saw significant storm activity off the Pacific Coast, which helped drive the overall increase in wind performance in the western US. Texas, the country’s largest producer of wind energy, rebounded particularly well from the first quarter. Wind speeds over Texas were elevated enough to make up for the first quarter lull and push the state to above average for the year.

“Texas is a good example for how quickly wind resource strength can change,” said Dr. Eichelberger. “Our data showed below average values during January and February of 2010 - the height of the recent El Niño - with a rapid shift to above average values during March and April as it weakened. While our clients are observing these variations at individual wind farms, our global wind resource data allows us to understand these patterns over broad geographic regions.

Wind Cycles are Predictable

“The good news is that wind is predictable,” said Dr. Eichelberger. “Our computer modeling technologies are able to both quantify and anticipate these shifts, and in the short term, even predict the impacts on wind speed with a high degree of accuracy.”

Project Siting of Wind Energy Generation

As the wind industry continues to mature, and the financial markets remain constrained, 3TIER believes project siting will demand a higher level of rigor when performing due diligence and accounting for long-term, historical wind performance. Naturally occurring phenomena, such as El Niño and NAO can – and should be – accounted for in the design and due diligence of wind power portfolios.

“We can predict with a high degree of certainty, what the performance of a project or region will look like over a 40 year period as it is impacted both positively and negatively by normal climatic fluctuations,” said Kenneth Westrick, founder and CEO of 3TIER. “Banks look to 3TIER and its highly sophisticated information services to provide an independent and objective quantification of the potential resource in order to understand the long-term risk, and to maximize power production and profitability.”

To learn more about wind as an altnerative energy source, go to: Wind Power/Energy

To learn more about related 3TIER products, please visit:

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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