Opening Access to Windfarm Data

Winter 2023

Wind power produces over 8% of our nation’s electricity, but one impediment to increasing reliance on this clean, sustainable power source is the vast size of many windfarms and the challenge of understanding turbine-turbine and turbine-atmosphere interactions. High performance computer simulations can help by providing detailed insights into fluid mechanical effects associated with turbine placement, layouts, and environmental factors. But these simulations are expensive and produce huge datasets, putting them out of reach of researchers without the requisite computational skills, substantial financial resources, and/or access to technology required.

An initiative spearheaded by Whiting School mechanical engineering faculty members Dennice Gayme, the Carol Linde Croft Faculty Scholar, and Charles Meneveau, the Louis M. Sardella Professor in Mechanical Engineering, both researchers in the Ralph O’Connor Sustainable Energy Institute, is poised to change that. The two have started a new project to create a public database of windfarm simulations. It will allow anyone with an internet connection to easily access and analyze the data in order to conduct research, generate knowledge, and evaluate models or wind field data to be used in windfarm planning or development projects. Potential users of the database therefore span academia and national laboratories to engineers working on windfarm projects.

“Each type of user will be able to very easily access and analyze data that is of interest to them. They will be able to take data from a synthetic windfarm and explore all of its spatio-temporal facets, at a level of detail that is impossible to achieve with existing datasets,” says Gayme. “The fact that you can come back and look at one location in detail and ask some very specific questions within this big simulation will be unprecedented.”

A rendering of wind turbines on a topographic map. There is a blue color cast.
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