Wind is an inexpensive form of energy, contributing to lower electricity prices in some parts of the nation.
But harnessing wind for energy is no slam dunk. Wind farm operators encounter many complex challenges that impact siting, construction, and operation. So, before they can plan, site, and construct these wind farms, operators must first have access to the most accurate data to help them make logistical decisions.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wind Energy Technologies Office is helping wind farm operators and others address these challenges through its Atmosphere to Electrons—or A2e—program. The collective of researchers from DOE’s national laboratories, industry, and academia is working to provide the wind industry with a better understanding of impacts that affect the wind plant operating environment.
Tapping the DAP for data
PNNL plays a major role in the A2e program by managing one of the program’s key tools, the Data Archive and Portal—or DAP.
The DAP is designed to collect, store, curate, catalog, preserve, and disseminate the massive amounts of experimental and computational results generated by research performed under the A2e program. A team of PNNL data management and computer scientists oversee the portal, which currently houses more than 242 terabytes of data gleaned from A2e research.
“The DAP provides the wind research community with secure, timely, easy, and open access to all data brought in from research under the A2e program,” said Chitra Sivaraman, a computer scientist who leads the team. “This includes multitudes of associated data—laboratory, field, and benchmark model data, as well as offshore wind data.”
And those who benefit from the secure access to the system include wind researchers, wind plant developers and owners, wind energy consultants, turbine manufacturers, and more.
To further their research, they can access modeled and observational data from remote sensing systems, such as sodar, radar, and lidar, as well as in situ measurements of basic meteorological and oceanographic variables. In addition, the DAP also stores benchmark model output. The portal preserves data using PNNL’s onsite research computing and cloud resources.
“The DAP has multiple capabilities that really benefit our wind research colleagues, at no cost,” said Sivaraman. “This includes easy access to publicly available data, long-term data preservation, and secure authorized access to proprietary data.”
Bridging the knowledge gap
The DAP also provides users with automated data collection from field studies, data monitoring and visualization, and standardized data sets for easy analysis. As of early 2020, almost 800 users have accessed the DAP’s nearly 500 data sets.
Currently, researchers are using the DAP to gather and monitor data for a field study off the coast of Maine in preparation for advanced offshore wind technology development.
“PNNL is proud to manage the DAP, as it’s a one-stop shop that is bridging the knowledge gap among wind data collectors, modelers, and data users,” said Sivaraman. “And the data it contains brings wind plant owners closer to deciding how and where to locate wind turbines.”
Users can access the DAP by registering online.