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NERSC Initiative for Scientific Exploration (NISE) 2011 Awards

Tall Tower Wind Energy Monitoring and Numerical Model Validation in Southern Nevada

Michael Kaplan, Desert Research Institute

NISE project m965

NISE Award: 750,000 Hours
Award Date: January 2011

In order to further assess the wind energy potential for Nevada, a new wind energy monitoring tower platform will be established in southern Nevada and the accuracy of several computational numerical models used to estimate the wind resource will be evaluated using data collected from the modeling platform. This project will concentrate on establishing the platform and the preliminary evaluations of the numerical models.

The 120 meter tower will provide continuous wind monitoring data at wind turbine hub and blade heights. Data from the platform and the evaluation numerical models' accuracy will improve wind resource maps, and identify the wind shear and turbulence regimes at the wind turbine hub and blade heights. The results of this project will be transferable to other Southwestern areas whose climates are similar to southern Nevada and the surrounding region.

The Operational Multiscale Environment Model with Grid Adaptivity (OMEGA) will be used for static adaptive grid simulations in the geographic region of the wind measurement platform. Preliminary evaluations of the accuracy of OMEGA will be made by comparing model estimates of wind speed and direction to speeds and measured by available meteorological instruments and towers in the region.

The present research evaluates the ability of OMEGA to reproduce point winds as compared to the observational data from the Stone Cabin Tower (near Tonopah, NV) at 40 m, 60 m, and 80 m. Model sensitivity to horizontal grid resolution, initial conditions, and terrain dataset resolution will also be tested. OMEGA will be run over five different horizontal grid resolutions with minimum horizontal edge lengths of: 18 km, 6 km, 2 km, 666 m, and 222 m. For each resolution, the model will be initialized using both the Global Forecasting System (GFS) and North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) at both 00 and 12 GMT to determine model sensitivity to the resolution and time of the initial conditions. Additionally, the 666m and 222m minimum grid resolution runs will be run with both a 90m and 1km resolution terrain database to determine the sensitivity to terrain features. Each group of model runs over the 30- day period of interest will then be analyzed using statistical techniques to determine how the model-generated winds compare with the observed winds. The statistical results will then be compared with results from MM5 and WRF simulations to determine the most appropriate model for wind energy potential studies in complex terrain.