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New Report Evaluates the State of Distributed Wind Resource Assessment

July 15, 2016

NREL Engineers Jason Fields, Heidi Tinnesand, and Ian Baring-Gould recently published a report titled, Distributed Wind Resource Assessment: State of the Industry, which:

  • Defines the current state of the distributed wind resource assessment processes
  • Identifies research and development challenges and barriers
  • Prioritizes the challenges that, if resolved, offer a high return on investment.

The report comes on the heels of a stakeholder workshop held in June 2015 and a later survey used to solicit insight on the wind resource assessment practices of the distributed wind industry. Upon receiving feedback from industry, several trends became apparent, the most notable of which was the wide range of responses across the distributed wind industry regarding methodologies, results, costs, timeline, and priorities due in part to the diverse nature of the distributed wind industry.

The researchers noticed that there is an enormous spread of turbine and project sizes, various project drivers, stakeholders, and configurations in the distributed wind industry, from single 1-kilowatt machines on a private residence to multi-megawatt community wind farms. The tools used in these disparate scenarios are necessarily different, but industry recipients provided a wide range of responses even within specific turbine size classes.

In addition to the varied feedback on distributed wind resource assessment practices, several challenges and barriers were identified:

  • Data Access: Limited access to public data
  • Validation and Benchmarking: Minimal data, methodologies, and guidelines available for resource and site assessment validation and benchmarking
  • Education and Outreach: Lack of education and outreach opportunities for the distributed wind resource assessment industry
  • Atmospheric Model Input Data: Lack of ways to access and incorporate site data for distributed wind projects
  • Measure-Correlate-Predict: Complexity and cost of Measure-Correlate-Predict approaches result in a lack of multi-year resource information used in project assessments
  • Downscaling Methods: Lack of robust methods for scaling wind data to typically lower hub heights for distributed wind projects
  • Standardization: Absence of standardization in distributed wind resource assessment methods
  • Low-Cost Instrumentation: Instrumentation, measurement systems, and data processing are too costly for many distributed wind projects.

The NREL team took this feedback and developed a report on the current state of distributed wind resource assessment, outlining all facets described above in greater detail, and offered possible solutions to the challenges that resource assessment currently faces.

Solving some of these challenges would have a major impact on factors such as cost of assessment, performance estimation, site suitability analysis, consumer confidence, and performance estimation, ultimately leading to a decreased levelized cost of energy in the distributed wind industry.

Read more about the report’s findings, models, and potentials solutions.

—Kelly Yaker