Through its agreement with Vestas, WDT is now the company’s approved and recommended weather solution vendor. Forty wind farm customers are already using LDSS to optimize safety at each of its sites across the Central Plains, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Minnesota, and Iowa. More locations are expected to utilize the lightning safety software over the next several months, as ongoing development of new wind farms continues.
The LDSS system allows customers to plan ahead for approaching lightning with site-specific lightning alerts. LDSS is easy to install as it runs on software already installed in customer computers, and provides an interactive GIS viewer to allow site managers to view strikes in real time, relative to a given location.
“We are proud to be assisting the U.S. wind energy business through our advanced lightning decision support system,” said Mike Eilts, President and CEO of WDT. “No other system offers comparable real-time lightning display and prediction capabilities in a single, integrated package.”
Vestas, the manufacturer of the wind turbines, often provides on-site equipment maintenance services for the private owners of the wind farms. This maintenance is performed by a full Vestas crew, consisting of equipment experts and site managers that office on-site at or near the wind farm location. Crews may conduct maintenance within the towers for several hours or throughout the day, climbing up and down the huge 200 plus foot towers. With many wind farms operating over 100 towers, many hundreds of workers are at potential risk from severe weather lightning strikes every day.
LDSS allows these site managers to determine the proximity of lightning strikes within a defined radius of the wind farm location and alert their crew of approaching lightning. LDSS can provide maintenance crews with the estimated time of arrival and departure of the lightning threat, through an advanced alerting engine, sending alerts to the office computers and cell phone devices in the field. In addition to impacting human safety, lightning is known to hit towers and severely damage wind turbine blades. With LDSS, Vestas is able to check claims against its equipment warranties by reviewing archived data on lightning strikes, creating for Vestas a substantial cost avoidance advantage.
Lightning Detection and Prediction
WDT’s LDSS system displays actual lightning strikes in real time within custom interactive maps. These custom maps allow the user to zoom in and see strikes relative to individual tower locations. WDT’s exclusive Lightning Prediction Algorithm (LPA) determines where high lightning threats will be in the next 60 minutes. LPA looks at real time lightning strikes, lightning strike density areas, and storm cell movements to create an accurate, moderate and high threat forecast area. The system allows Vestas to determine whether site-specific locations fall within this lightning threat area, by issuing a lightning alert issued for that location. These predicted lightning threat areas are displayed graphically on custom maps. The LPA is 96 percent accurate out to 60 minutes, and 99 percent accurate out to 10 minutes. The benefits of LDSS are as follows:
· LDSS includes interactive real time lightning displays, lightning prediction, stroke counts, lightning data retrieval, site specific lightning alerting, and lightning data archives.
· The LDSS system alerts customers in advance when lightning is approaching a site specific location.
· The LDSS system also includes strike range alerting, letting customers know when lightning strikes within a defined radius of your location. This technology provides strike counts, specific strike information, and an all clear as lightning moves over your area.
· LDSS is delivered via the internet. This allows customers to access the system at multiple locations within an office facility. Customers can even access LDSS on the road or in the comfort of their own home.
· LDSS alerts are delivered to the software display for users within the office and to cell phones for users in the field.
· The LDSS display software offers interactive and customizable lightning and weather maps. With LDSS, you can customize your display by integrating your existing GIS maps, such as individual wind turbine locations.
Vestas is the world’s leading supplier of modern-energy solutions. Vestas develops, manufactures, sells and maintains technology that uses wind energy to generate electricity. Vestas has installed more than 39,000 wind turbines in 63 countries, and has a track record of installing more than 10,000 wind turbines on American soil.
Founded in 1999, Weather Decision Technologies has become a global leader in providing state-of-the-science weather detection, nowcasting, and forecasting systems and services to our partners and customers. WDT provides its numerical weather prediction capabilities and services for weather sensitive industries globally. WDT maintains operational and international offices in metropolitan Washington, DC and Norman, Oklahoma.