The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Wind Ramps: DOE Pushes Research on Wind Power Forecasting

Ramp events, with big shifts in wind speed in short periods, make for challenging wind energy scenarios

2 min read
Wind Ramps: DOE Pushes Research on Wind Power Forecasting

A ramp event, in the lexicon of wind speeds and wind energy, refers to a drastic shift -- either up or down -- in the speed of wind in a given location over a short period of time. These changes make for difficult periods for a wind farm, as it can vary the output of the turbines and affect the grid's power levels quite dramatically. To learn how to better predict ramp events, the DOE is funding a research project run by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory along with AWS Truepower called WindSENSE.

As a LLNL press release says, better prediction of ramp events can allow control room operators of wind farms to better schedule the turbines and allow the grid to remain more stable in the face of rapidly shifting conditions.

"Our work identified important weather variables associated with ramp events," said Chandrika Kamath, the LLNL's project leader. "This information could be used by the schedulers to reduce the number of data streams they need to monitor when they schedule wind energy on the power grid."

To assess conditions that might help predict ramp events, the team monitored the Tehachapi Pass wind energy area in California and the Columbia Basin area in Washington and Oregon. They found that certain sensors and measurements could improve the wind speed forecasts, but so far only by a few hours ahead at most. Still, given that ramp events involve changes in output of a wind farm by 50 percent and more in only one hour, such forecasting improvements are needed.

According to a 2010 report from another National Laboratory, at Argonne, this is an area that needs substantially more research as wind power continues to be integrated into the grid. According to the report:

"Ramp event detection is a problem that has emerged fairly recently, as signified by the fact that it has no established standards, including definitions, forecasting methods, and evaluation metrics. Furthermore, the few existing methodologies report results that tend to be unreliable and of low accuracy. These observations indicate that the field is wide open to research that pushes beyond the current state of the art."

(Image of Tehachapi Pass wind energy area via LoraxV/Flickr)

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

Keep Reading ↓Show less