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15 Dec 2011: Wind Power Variability
Is Focus of U.S.-Funded Research

Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are studying ways to better forecast the sharp increases and decreases in wind speeds so that electricity generation from wind farms can be more effectively integrated into the grid. The variability of wind power presents a significant challenge to utilities; surges in wind power generation, for example, can overload the grid at certain times. But researchers at the California-based Lawrence Livermore lab are using advanced computer software and sensors to determine what meteorological conditions in various regions are likely to cause so-called “ramp events,” when winds rise or fall sharply. The project, called WindSENSE, is using wind energy data from two regions where wind power generation is increasing rapidly — the Tehachapi Pass in Southern California and the Columbia River Basin in Oregon. In such windy regions, ramp events can cause wind energy generation to fluctuate by more than 1,000 megawatts an hour. “Our work identified important weather variables associated with ramp events,” said Chandrika Kamath, lead researcher on the project. “One of our goals is to help the people in the control room at the utilities determine when ramp events may occur and how that will affect the power generation from a particular wind farm.”


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