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Keeping an eye on the weather

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Energy Global,

Davy Theophile, Head of Renewable Energy at Vaisala, France, addresses how wind, solar radiation, and weather monitoring solutions can help propel the renewable energy industry forward.

The wind and the sun – Earth’s most important and ever-present energy sources – are helping usher in a cleaner and more sustainable era of power generation. It is critical to effectively harness the immense potential of these renewable energy sources in order to stop relying on harmful fossil fuels and move the planet forward.

Given the intensifying consumer demand and global governmental prioritisation of sustainability, large scale renewable energy projects can create lasting societal change. However, the growing size and scale of modern wind and solar projects demand accurate resource monitoring to elevate wind and solar performance and make renewables more competitive, efficient, and sustainable.

Exploring how groundbreaking weather measurement technologies drive wind and solar energy advancement, it is important to highlight the pivotal role of accurate weather data in optimising efficiency, safety, and decision-making across the wind and solar farm cycles.

The significance of weather data in renewable energy

With the renewable energy landscape transforming and powerful solar and wind technologies progressing, the success of this shift toward sustainability depends on accurate, reliable, and fully integrated solutions that provide users the scalability and data quality necessary to tackle today’s greatest energy challenges.

The weather plays a multifaceted role throughout the lifecycles of renewable energy projects – from development and operation to ongoing maintenance – influencing annual energy production, cost, supplier compliance, efficiency, and safety. Weather data informs ideal site selection, system design, and turbine or array configurations during development to optimise energy capture, maximise production, and ensure project bankability. It is key to assessing energy production assets’ performance and thus maximising production. Historical weather trends and patterns reveal the best locations for wind and solar projects, contributing to detailed resource assessments that deter-mine expected power generation.

Reliable weather information remains vital for renewable energy projects. Wind behaviour, solar irradiation, temperature, precipitation, and other weather phenomena all affect wind and solar farm performance, turbine output and fatigue, as well as solar panel degradation.

Finally, as many are all too aware, severe weather events – such as lightning or extreme winds – can lead to safety hazards and downtime without proper monitoring. Lightning strikes can damage equipment, endanger personnel, and even disrupt power generation.

From the performance and efficiency to the resilience and safety of wind and solar installations, Mother Nature’s impact on renewable energy projects is undeniable. In the face of increasing renewable energy penetration, accurate weather data helps inform decision-makers at every stage of the wind and solar lifecycles to extract maxi-mum value from wind and sunlight.

How LiDAR propels wind measurement campaigns into the future

Recent wind industry evolution – aided by advances in wind LiDAR – has equipped developers, operators, and turbine manufacturers with bankable and accurate data for project financing, as well as wind farm output and performance predictions. Although remote sensing devices once struggled for wind industry acceptance, the technology’s increased accuracy, agility, and simplicity meet multiple needs and applications with proven deployments in diverse terrains and environments on and offshore.

LiDAR can precisely measure wind speeds and gusts at far greater heights than traditional tower-mounted anemometers. The technology maps wind direction and complex flow patterns across a site, detecting shifts at different locations and altitudes.

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For more news and technical articles from the global renewable industry, read the latest issue of Energy Global magazine.

Energy Global's Winter 2023 issue

The Winter 2023 issue of Energy Global hosts an array of technical articles weather analysis, geothermal solutions, energy storage technology, and more. This issue also features a regional report looking at the future of renewables in North America, and a report from Théodore Reed-Martin, Editorial Assistant, Energy Global, on how Iceland utilises its unique geology for renewable energy.

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