Technological advancements, federal subsidies and investments, along with the increasing electricity demand and a quest to curb carbon dioxide emissions are fostering the growth of the wind power market globally, experts say.
Currently, wind power is catering around 2.6% of global electricity production and that figure is expected to rise to 7.4% by 2023, according to Navigant Consulting’s Wind Forecasting and Data Analytics report.
The Navigant report underscored the significance of wind forecasting and data analytic techniques for setting up potential power plants, as 1m/second difference above or below wind forecasts resulted in plus or minus 350MW of generation capacity.
According to the report, project site assessment, which determines the potential generation capacity at a given site including various underlying probabilities and uncertainties of those estimations, is a key step for developing projects.
Various hardware technologies used for wind forecasting include met towers and associated anemometry, and remote sensing technologies.
Met towers are suitable for the forecasting of commercial-scale wind turbines typically between 65m and 80m, while remote sensing technologies including sound detection and ranging (sodar) and light detection and ranging (lidar) are said to be cost-effective for plants with larger wind turbines of up to 200m above the ground.
Other technologies that are driving the wind power market growth include more reliable mechanical systems, longer blades, taller towers and smarter software control systems.
The developers tend towards using new generations of turbines with taller towers and longer blades that will help them to catch more wind and boost electricity generation, while smarter control software tools are being used to manage these larger turbines that are loaded with sensors and precision controllers.
The installed global wind energy capacity grew by 44.7GW in 2012, representing an increase of the total installed base by 19% to 282.4GW, according to the Global Wind Energy Council.