The wind resource at a particular location is characterized by two measures — wind speed and wind direction. Using these two measures, the feasibility of installing a wind turbine can be determined. As a general rule, a good wind resource is considered an average annual wind speed of 5m/s or above at approximately 100ft above ground level. Installing an appropriately-sized wind turbine at this wind speed will create a more likely scenario for a reasonable payback period.
In 2001, the Center for Wind Energy was selected to administer the State-Based Anemometer Loan Program (SBALP) under a grant from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), with assistance from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). SBALP was established by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Wind Powering America Initiative. The program was expected to spur the development and use of wind power in Virginia by helping potential wind turbine users to quantify their wind resource.
To administer the SBALP program over the years, the Center for Wind Energy has received a number of 20-meter, 34-meter and 50-meter meteorological towers. These towers were loaned to landowners giving them the opportunity to measure their available wind energy resource while providing wind data to the Commonwealth and NREL.
While the Sbalp program is not supported at this time, CWE has installed met towers at a several Virginia schools supported by the Wind for Schools program. Interested schools can contact us for further details.
Sbalp meteorological tower data is available for download from our interactive maps.
If you decide to measure your own wind resource, we are happy to assist you in siting your equipment to ensure that the data is adequate for wind assessment and turbine size suggestions. We can also assist you with data analysis from your weather station. Below are a few suggestions of various types of weather monitoring equipment. The key things to look for are an anemometer and a wind vane, as well as the ability to log and archive your data and that it is easily accessible.
We have one of each of these systems installed at the Small Wind Training and Testing Facility on the JMU campus. We are happy to host a visit to learn more about how these systems work and the pros and cons of each. Feel free to contact us for more information or to set up a visit.
SoDAR (Sonic Detection And Ranging) is a method of measuring wind speed and direction by emitting sound waves and receiving the scatter after they have interacted with the atmospheric turbulence caused by the wind. This technology is important because SoDAR apparatuses are more easily deployed—the only siting requirements are level ground and an unimpeded view of the sky from the device.
Both the Triton and ASC SoDAR units are used by the CWE for student projects and training. Periodically these units are deployed for special projects. Contact us with your project idea.
LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) is a method of measuring wind speed and direction by emitting light particles and receiving the backscatter after they have interacted with the atmospheric turbulence caused by the wind.
There are two types of LiDAR – side-canning and profiling. Profiling LiDAR measures wind speed and direction at a single location – looking straight up. Side-scanning LiDAR can measure wind speed (and direction?) looking sideways at points kilometers away. This has an obvious benefit for measuring offshore winds without the need for an offshore location.