Third Symposium on Environmental Applications


Using environmental data to attract development: the Oklahoma Wind Power Assessment Initiative

Timothy W. Hughes, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and M. Shafer, T. Simonsen, J. Traurig, N. Mirsky, S. J. Stadler, and P. G. Earls

Wind Energy is a rapidly growing source, with a global annual growth rate of over 25%. Oklahoma is one of twelve states considered prime development territory, yet up until recently, it had done little to spur development of wind energy resources. That changed over the past year, due in large part to the presence of the Oklahoma Mesonet. The Mesonet is a statewide network of 115 automated weather stations. It became operational in 1994, yielding seven years of wind observations on a county-level basis. The network includes reports of wind speed and direction at 10 meters elevation, recorded in five-minute intervals throughout the day. This wealth of information makes it possible to perform detailed statewide analyses of wind energy potential, which may effectively jump-start the process of developing wind energy in the state.

Using the five-minute Mesonet data, the Oklahoma Wind Power Assessment Initiative (OWPAI) team developed high-resolution wind power density (WPD) maps to help determine optimal placement of both large and small wind turbines. Furthermore, using the Mesonet, the team developed longer-term wind climatologies that can be used as baseline information, increasing confidence in assessment from shorter-term tall-tower data.

For each Mesonet site, WPD was calculated for both 10 meters (a typical height for small wind turbines) and 50 meters (a typical height for large wind farms). In order to calculate WPD at 50 meters, the Mesonet data were scaled from the 10-meter observation height. This was done using an exponential function, typical of winds in the lower boundary layer. This requires knowledge of local terrain and vegetation features. Roughness lengths were determined for each site by using GIS analysis of local features out to a range of ten kilometers.

The Mesonet station WPD calculations for both levels were fed into WindMap(TM) software, resulting in detailed analyses of localized maxima of wind power potential. This information is now available to local economic development consortia interested in identifying suitable regions and attracting wind developers. In addition to the Mesonet data, the OWPAI team provides information on location of transmission lines, roads, and environmentally sensitive areas. This information is critical to assuring that those people located in prime development regions can actively pursue industrial investors and obtain fair-market value on land leases.

extended abstract  Extended Abstract (1.3M)

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Session 5, Energy Applications
Wednesday, 16 January 2002, 3:30 PM-5:30 PM

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