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Wind Energy Science Leadership Series

The Wind Energy Science Leadership Series is an ongoing series of educational webinars that includes presentations and discussions on wind energy-related topics, featuring speakers from the laboratory, strategic partners, and the energy industry.

Inspired by the Grand Challenges in Wind Energy Science, each webinar in the series grants participants a better understanding of the challenges facing wind energy and the pathways forward for making wind one of the most prevalent energy sources of the future. Participants can also catch up on past webinars in the series by visiting NREL's Learning Channel.

Upcoming Webinars

May 12, 2021
9–10:15 a.m. MT

The deployment and operation of wind turbines present unintended environmental effects. For land-based wind energy, the focus is primarily on collision risk, during the operational phase, to certain species of bats and raptors. Offshore wind energy development may pose related risks for bats and birds but also impact marine mammals and deep-water flora and fauna during construction. To achieve renewable energy production goals, it is necessary to fully understand and, in certain situations, mitigate these effects. Therefore, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is using engagement and research to address environmental concerns—which will be showcased in an upcoming webinar presented by our experts.

In this webinar, Cris Hein will highlight engagement activities for the environmental portfolio and discuss several projects aimed at validating cost-effective minimization measures for bats. John Yarbrough will present results on classifying biological observations from thermal video data using machine learning. This work helps provide a better understanding of the timing, conditions, and behavior of wildlife interacting with wind turbines. Eliot Quon will present on the development of atmospheric and wind power plant flow models that pair flight behavior to predict risk to golden eagles at two spatial scales. This research will help inform siting decisions as well as curtailment responses to eagle presence. Rebecca Green will discuss the portfolio’s stakeholder engagement efforts relative to offshore wind energy, including the U.S. Offshore Wind Synthesis of Environmental Effects Research and the Working Together to Resolve Environmental Effects of Wind Energy (WREN) Horizon Scan. Through these and other projects, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory strives to facilitate and support the coexistence of renewable energy development and the environment.

For more information about the webinar, and how to register, contact Alex Lemke.

Webinar Archives

Apr. 8, 2021

Achieving decarbonization goals—including the Biden administration's climate and energy plan—will require rapid and sustained deployment of wind and solar power. However, the interaction between siting considerations and clean energy development at this scale is not well understood. Moreover, this interaction is poorly reflected in data and tools used to inform these goals. In this webinar, NREL analysts Trieu Mai and Anthony Lopez presented two related research efforts that used detailed geospatial and power-sector modeling to shed light on this critical, yet underappreciated, topic. This work examined local land-use conflicts to develop first-of-a-kind estimates of the U.S. wind technical resource potential using geospatial modeling with unprecedented spatial resolution. The research team modeled setbacks between wind turbines and other infrastructure, including 124 million buildings and every road, railway, transmission line, and radar tower in the nation. The impact of wind siting considerations on the evolution of the U.S. power system were then evaluated using NREL's national electricity planning models to assess how siting restrictions could impact the cost of reaching a very low-carbon grid. This work shows the need for more-integrated land use, energy, and technology R&D planning to balance local clean energy deployment decisions with actions that seek to mitigate the worst effects of global climate change.

Mar. 11, 2021

Watch the Hybrid Energy Systems of the Future webinar.

This webinar addresses the design and control of wind energy systems of the future ranging from utility-scale wind plants and state-of-the-art wind-based hybrid plants to the control of these variable resources along with millions of devices across vehicles, buildings, and distributed solar. The future energy system will be a carefully orchestrated effort between utility-scale renewable energy and distributed energy resources. A clean energy future requires coordinated control of these technologies and fundamental innovation with state-of-the-art control theory and sensor fusion. Research will be conducted with NREL capabilities being developed at the Advanced Research on Integrated Energy Systems (ARIES)—a state-of-the-art research facility that brings together hardware and software across different domains to match the complexity of modern energy systems. These technologies can seamlessly integrate edge devices, sensor information, and utility-scale generation to go beyond mere convenience and simultaneously improve the quality of life, enhance mobility, optimize grid integrated efficient buildings, and improve the affordability, reliability, and resiliency of the grid in a sustainable way.

Nov. 5, 2020

Watch the Floating Offshore Wind Systems of Tomorrow webinar.

Floating wind technology is critical to the U.S. offshore wind industry because 58% of offshore wind resource is in deep water, where higher winds and fewer deployment barriers offer abundant siting opportunities. The science of these systems is already pushing beyond current design assumptions that were developed for smaller machines in terrestrial applications. Floating design philosophies adapted from the offshore oil and gas industry fall short of commercial cost targets, necessitating substantial innovation and validation. In this webinar, Amy Robertson and a panel of NREL researchers discussed the research needed to design and optimize innovative floating wind systems that will enable the deep cost reductions necessary for the commercialization of floating offshore wind.

Oct. 7, 2020

Watch the Examining the Increasing Size of Onshore Wind Turbine Rotors webinar.

In partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, national laboratories, and industry, Nick Johnson and a panel of researchers from NREL discussed new, innovative technologies that maximize the advantages of large-scale rotors and their potential for increased energy generation. This work as part of the Department of Energy's Big Adaptive Rotor project aims to create the next generation of land-based wind turbines with 206-meter rotors, which will increase capacity factors by 10% or more over a typical land-based turbine. This webinar addressed the challenges associated with increasing rotor size for onshore wind turbines, which has contributed to substantial reductions in the cost of wind energy, and the feasibility of these large rotors and the design, modeling, and controls advances needed to enable these technologies to further drive down wind energy costs.

Aug. 31, 2020

Watch the Atmospheric Science for Wind Energy Research webinar.

Atmospheric processes create and control the fuel that drives energy demand as well as several renewable energy technologies, most notably the wind. Though these processes have been examined for thousands of years, our understanding of the dynamics of the atmosphere is lacking at the temporal and spatial scales critical to these energy systems. As a result, atmospheric scientists are breaking new ground in describing how highly complex wind dynamics evolve from global weather patterns to interactions between turbines, wind power plants, and groups of plants. The new understanding is driving increases in both productivity and reliability. And the science behind these processes continues to advance through an integrated series of field campaigns and simulation tool development activities.

Senior Engineer Pat Moriarty hosted this webinar in which a panel of wind energy science and technology leaders discussed the latest atmospheric research in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, national laboratories, industry, and the international community. Topics included a fundamental overview of atmospheric forcing, resource assessment, atmospheric measurement including remote sensing, contrasting processes between land-based and offshore wind, and turbulence-resolving atmospheric simulations. Speakers also highlighted recent and forthcoming large-scale field campaigns, such as the Wind Forecasting Improvement Projects and the American Wake Experiment (AWAKEN).

July 30, 2020

View the Future of High-Performance Computing for Wind Energy presentation slides.

The key to optimizing wind energy is the ability to predict and understand the complex interplay of turbulent atmospheric fluid dynamics, turbine wakes, and turbine dynamics. That complexity increases as turbines become larger, wind farms increase in number, and are built in complex terrain both on land and offshore. Predictive simulation of wind plants requires resolving an extreme range of scales, going from sub-millimeter-scale blade boundary layers to kilometer-scale wind plant domains.

Principal Scientist Michael Sprague hosted this webinar in which a panel of wind energy science and technology leaders discussed the creation and application of a new open-source modeling and simulation environment for wind energy called ExaWind. The ExaWind project is a close collaboration among more than 40 researchers from NREL, Sandia National Laboratories, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Texas at Austin, and Parallel Geometric Algorithms LLC. Our team is assembling and creating a suite of computational fluid dynamics and computational structural dynamics codes for wind turbines and wind plants. ExaWind is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Exascale Computing Project.

July 1, 2020

Watch the Grand Challenges in Wind Energy Science webinar.

NREL wind energy researchers illuminate the grand challenges in wind energy science that need to be addressed to make it one of the world's primary sources of low-cost electricity generation. The international scientific community is invited to help to tackle these challenges.

An international group of researchers led by NREL published a thought-leader article on the topic last year in Science. In addition to written discussion on the topic, several authors of the report held a webinar to highlight the nature of the grand challenges and walk through some of the reasons these issues remain unsolved. They also highlight the interconnected nature of the challenges and how this necessitates a new discipline of wind energy science, and the systems perspective it provides, to help wind energy reach its full potential—supplying as much as one-third to one-half of the world's electricity needs.