Remote Sensing Will Play an Increasingly Important Role in the Wind Power Market

The wind power market currently provides almost 3 percent of global electricity production.  As the wind power industry matures, wind forecasting technologies are becoming critical in order to integrate greater amounts of variable wind energy into the grid.  Meteorological towers, or met towers, the predominant solution at present, serve a range of forecasting needs.  According to a recent report from Navigant Research, however, these towers will increasingly give way in the coming years to remote sensing devices, such as sound detection and ranging (sodar) and light detection and ranging (lidar) systems.

“As wind turbines grow in size, met towers are no longer cost-effective, and the value proposition for using met towers alone is rapidly vanishing,” says Feng Zhao, managing consultant with Navigant Research.  “Additionally, pressure from grid operators demanding more accurate power scheduling from wind farm operators and the challenges of lowering the cost of offshore wind energy are making remote sensing devices increasingly attractive.”

Both sodar and lidar, the two primary technology approaches to remote sensing, are based on ground-mounted devices that use Doppler effect analysis to measure the wind space above the unit.  The market dynamic between sodar and lidar is evolving and unsettled, the study concludes,  as these technologies are effectively competing for market leadership but no clear front-runner has emerged.

The report, “Wind Forecasting and Data Analytics”, examines the market for remote sensing devices and met towers for wind forecasting, as well as disruptive remote sensing-based wind turbine control technology.  Market drivers and barriers, along with key technology issues, are examined in detail, and profiles of key industry players, including hardware and service providers, are included.  The report also provides market forecasts for demand for and revenue from wind forecasting technologies, segmented by region, through 2020.  An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Navigant Research website.