LiDAR-based characterization of mid-altitude wind conditions for airborne wind energy systems


Summary Engineers and researchers working on the development of airborne wind energy systems (AWES) still rely on oversimplified wind speed approximations and coarsely sampled reanalysis data because of a lack of high-resolution wind data at altitudes above 200 m. Ten-minute average wind speed LiDAR measurements up to an altitude of 1100 m and data from nearby weather stations were investigated with regard to wind energy generation and impact on LiDAR measurements. Data were gathered by a long-range pulsed Doppler LiDAR device installed on flat terrain. Because of the low overall carrier-to-noise ratio, a custom-filtering technique was applied. Our analyses show that diurnal variation and atmospheric stability significantly affect wind conditions aloft which cause a wide range of wind speeds and a multimodal probability distribution that cannot be represented by a simple Weibull distribution fit. A better representation of the actual wind conditions can be achieved by fitting Weibull distributions separately to stable and unstable conditions. Splitting and clustering the data by simulated surface heat flux reveals substate stratification responsible for the multimodality. We classify different wind conditions based on these substates, which result in different wind energy potential. We assess optimal traction power and optimal operating altitudes statistically as well as for specific days based on a simplified AWES model. Using measured wind speed standard deviation, we estimate average turbulence intensity and show its variation with altitude and time. Selected short-term data sets illustrate temporal changes in wind conditions and atmospheric stratification with a high temporal and vertical resolution.

Wind Energy
Markus Sommerfeld
PhD Researcher

Interested in airborne wind energy resource assessment and performance modeling.