A research infrastructure of advanced research laboratories and modern research equipment is a prerequisite for continuing to generate research of the highest international quality within the EU. The EU seeks to retain and recruit the best students and researchers, and modern research infrastructures are therefore also an important competitive factor. Finally, the research infrastructures contribute positively to the EU’s capacity for innovation and to the transfer of knowledge and technology between the research and business communities.
A top-class European research infrastructure is therefore high on the EU’s agenda, and the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) has been created to coordinate this task. In this context, the EU is drawing up a strategic roadmap for the future European research infrastructures. The ESFRI roadmap describes the need for joint European research infrastructures over the next 10-20 years. Following the EU’s 2009 call for proposals within the area of sustainable energy, Risø’s new WindScanner has just been included in ESFRI’s roadmap 2010.
“Risø DTU has been leading the way in the development of wind scanners, and we are pleased that the Danish test facility will now become part of the future joint European research infrastructures, so our knowledge and experience can be disseminated to other EU countries. We also trust the process to strengthen our own competencies within wind energy research as we intensify our dialogue with other wind power researchers and wind turbines companies,” says Henrik Bindslev, Director at Risø DTU.
3D mapping of wind conditions by means of laser instruments
The Risø WindScanner is a system of special laser-based wind measuring devices, so-called Lidars (Light Detection and Ranging). A Lidar system transmits laser beams into the air, where they hit particles and are reflected back to the Lidar, where the reflections are analysed to provide information about wind conditions in the atmosphere.
Lidars are also used to measure the so-called boundary layer height, i.e. to determine the vertical extent of the boundary layer in the atmosphere at a given time, a factor that affects wind turbine operation. Lidars are also used to determine the instantaneous wind speed and direction and turbulence remotely over terrain, e.g. in front of, within, and in the wakes of the wind turbines, which today have rotor planes that extend to extreme heights in the atmosphere. A single wind scanner consists of three such wind Lidar systems operated in concert, making it possible to create three-dimensional maps of local wind conditions and wind resources.
This type of remote sensing is becoming more and more popular as it results in extremely detailed mapping. This means that wind energy potential can be exploited more efficiently. Moreover, wind turbine manufacturers can gain significant information about the specific wind conditions to which wind turbines are exposed on site, allowing them to size and dimension turbines to match on-site wind conditions. Prior to the advent of the WindScanner, researchers had to install several meteorological masts to obtain the same information about local wind conditions.
The Risø WindScanner can also be deployed as a mobile emergency unit to sites where wind turbines are repeatedly experiencing problems to establish whether the difficulties might be due to specific local wind conditions.
The Risø WindScanner may also benefit air traffic, as it can measure wind shear and turbulence along runways, making landing safer because sudden turbulence and extreme wind shear which might knock a plane off course can be intercepted by the WindScanner, and pilots can be warned.
The project is coordinated by Risø DTU. Partners are: DTU Mechanical Engineering (DK), DTU Fotonik (DK), Aalborg University (DK), IPU (DK), LM Wind Power (DK), NKT Photonics (DK), Natural Power (UK), Leosphere (FR) and Robert Bosch GmbH (DE).
European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) is a forum of representatives from the 27 EU countries, associated countries and the European Commission which aims to support the creation of large-scale transnational research infrastructures in Europe, while also functioning as facilitators of international negotiations on specific research infrastructure initiatives.
ESFRI’s roadmaps from 2006 and 2008 designated proposals for a series of particularly promising European research facilities, while the second roadmap from 2008 consists of 44 research infrastructures of special scientific interest.
ESFRI has neither its own financial resources nor any political mandate to undertake the proper implementation of the designated projects. It is therefore up to the national research councils to support and participate in the realisation of the individual research infrastructure projects.