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Build a Better Wind Farm and the Watts Will Beat a Path to Your Door

High-tech imaging helps Colorado researchers catch the wind

Craig Miller

Wind power has come a long way but maximizing the output of even modern wind farms is still a challenge.

It isn’t enough to buy a slew of multi-megawatt turbines and stake them on a windy hillside. You have to know how the wind behaves, not only going into the turbine but the “wake” coming out the backside. Otherwise, you can get more windstorm than wattage. It’s a new area of research and it got help this week from scientists who literally “look” at the wind.

Speaking at the American Geophysical Union (#AGU11) here in San Francisco, Julie Lundquist from the University of Colorado, Boulder, offered up her team’s images of a wind turbine’s wake. Using Doppler Lidar — think police radar gun — she showed us the color-coded flow: a slower, cool-colored wake at the center just behind the turbine, surrounded by the warmer-colored fast flow swirling around it. Continue reading