Developing a wind energy plant in heavily forested areas is a difficult process

Developing a wind power plant in heavily forested areas is a difficult process. So when a key account customer needed assistance, a team of specialists was assembled within Technology R&D to share our leading technology and advanced knowledge of wind farm siting.

Product Management worked with specialists from the Wind and Site Competence Centre to showcase our capabilities to the customer RWEInnogy, who is interested in developing a site in a forest in the UK.

Forest siting is a challenge

Due to the best wind sites becoming fewer, customers are now looking to more complex areas to erect their wind power plants, for example in forests. This creates many challenges, as regulation in many countries demands cutting strategies to save as much trees as possible. Further limitations concerns hub height, as well as rules about transporting the large components to site.

The wind conditions in the forest are much more difficult to predict than flat and open areas, as wind moving through the trees creates excessive turbulence and higher wind shear, which is usually not calculated by traditional siting tools such as WAsP and therefore people have not seen potential risks if they treat forestry sites without considering the add-on wind effects caused by forest.

“Here in Vestas’ Wind and Site Competence Centre, we use advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics(CFD) tools to model and investigate the forest effects on wind power plants into greater details, which enable us to understand the complicated flow phenomena associated with forest,” says CFD specialist Cheng-Hu Hu.

There are many research activities going on with forest modelling. The specialists use remote sensing equipment (LiDAR) to conduct measurement campaigns for model validation.They also use a helicopter to scan the terrain for accurate representation of forests in the model and they have recently developed a numerical method which can present the dynamics of flows around forest.

All the efforts enable the professional dialogues between Vestas Technology R&D and the customers for siting of wind turbines in forestry sites.

Knowledge sharing beneficial for all stakeholders

Technology Key Accounts Manager Therese Marie Sjølin, says the collaboration was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the skills of the Technology R&D specialists to a key account customer.

“We brought together our experts and they had the opportunity to teach the customer,” she says. Senior Vice President KAM Henk van Ritter from Vestas Central Europe says bringing the customer to Technology R&D enabled both groups to share information and learn from each other.

“We found we could make improvements by 3-5% of the annual power output of the site,” he says. “It’s about sharing knowledge,.We have the best capabilities when it comes to wind and site, we have the best understanding conditions, modeling predictions, and our engineers were well equipped to to answer the customers challenging questions.”