Windtech: More lidar - Ahead-of-time wind monitoring

American company Catch The Wind is developing laser technology to scan the airspace ahead of wind turbines and report information on the properties of approaching winds directly to the turbine's electronic control system.

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The aim is for the wind turbine to adjust for approaching wind, instead of reacting to wind speed or direction after it has arrived, as is current practice using standard anemometers mounted on top of the nacelle.

Catch the Wind's light detecting and ranging (lidar) device was tested in field trials with the Nebraska Public Power District at its 59MW Ainsworth wind farm in Nebraska. The company says the preliminary results showed a significant improvement in productivity of the wind turbine over traditional yaw control.

Following those tests, Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa signed a research and development agreement with the company to test the system on one of Gamesa's 2MW turbines located at an as-of-yet undetermined wind project in the US.

Catch the Wind describes the deal as a significant breakthrough for the start-up company. It has selected BreconRidge Corporation to make the devices at that company's facilities in Ottawa, Canada. The trade-off for sophistication comes in extra upfront cost, but Catch the Wind believes the increased energy production of a turbine could offset the investment.

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