Weather Forecasts for Renewable Energy Companies
by Andrew Thut, on Jul 5, 2018 1:58:00 PM
Employee safety is critical at wind farms, so our WeatherOps and GIS products are vital to customers in the renewable energy industry. There are multiple large energy companies and wind farms who commonly take advantage of our services for a variety of reasons.
Many wind farms receive lightning alerts at 50 or 60 miles followed by another at 30 miles, in which they will typically shut down staff operations. With turbines commonly standing 80 meters tall, it is essential to make decisions at further distances than what you would see in athletics or outdoor events. Rather than alerting based on a random coordinate on the wind farm, area-based alerting allows more accurate information based on the outermost turbines of the wind farm. This Esri GIS image shows the location of turbines with severe storms with lightning.
Our WeatherOps wind forecasts are also valuable, specifically at hub height (generally 80 or 100 meters). We provide customers 80-meter wind forecasts and generation forecasts. If the wind isn’t blowing, they aren’t producing energy. Also, if the wind is too strong, the turbines will shut down to avoid overload and potential turbine malfunction. Many of our clients will look at our 80-meter wind forecast, shown above, to plan good days for maintenance. If the wind is too strong, staff members will not work up a tower.
Finally, post-storm, many customers will rely on our archived lightning reports to determine if lightning potentially damaged a blade. Knowing this ahead of time can save these companies a lot of money. If a wind blade is damaged and they don’t notice (or make a fix), it could lead to further malfunctions and also commonly contributes to lower power generation.