Carbon Trust launches LiDAR trial

Wednesday, 17 February, 2016 - 11:00

The Carbon Trust announced the start of the world’s largest trial of LiDAR technology which is taking place in Dublin Bay, Ireland. This is the latest Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) project designed to help reduce the cost of energy from offshore wind.

Over the next three months the most comprehensive test of scanning LIDAR technology will take place, where four different scanning LiDAR systems will be put through their paces, alongside three vertical profiling LiDARs for validation purposes. The project is being supported by independent renewable energy company, RES and maritime safety organisation, Commissioners of Irish Lights. The OWA project aims to test how accurately scanning LiDAR technology can measure wind resource for potential wind farm sites, which could deliver significant cost savings in the early stages of wind farm development.

The units involved in the trial are:

  • 3 Leosphere WINDCUBE vertical profiling LiDARs
  • 1 Leosphere WINDCUBE 400S scanning LiDAR
  • 1 Leosphere prototype scanning LiDAR
  • 2 Lockheed Martin WindTracer scanning LiDARs

Megan Smith, Project Manager, Wakes Research at the Carbon Trust commented: “This project forms a really important stage of the OWA’s efforts to increase the industry’s understanding of wind resource measurement and validate the technologies capable of delivering results. Project financing is a significant proportion of cost, so anything we can do to get a deeper understanding of yield will increase investor confidence and lower the cost of financing. Scanning LIDAR has the potential to take our understanding to a completely new level. In information terms it is the difference between taking a still photo compared to having a three dimensional video with full sound. The need to test the sensitivity of the technology is the next frontier in getting industry acceptance.”

The OWA has been working for the past few years to support more cost effective solutions, focusing on the development and commercialisation of a number of floating LiDAR systems, to significantly reduce upfront capital expenditure. Yet measurements taken by both masts and floating LiDAR are limited in that they only provide a measurement of the wind resource at a single point in space. For an offshore wind farm covering an area of up to 200 km2, this can create uncertainty on the wind speed at locations far from the measurement point. This is known as spatial variation, where measurements may not be representative of the entire site. This is translated into risk incurring additional financing costs to wind farm development.

Scanning LiDAR technology has the potential to reduce the risk associated with spatial variation. These systems are capable of scanning with a usable range of between 10 to 30 km, to impressive levels of detail, taking over 100 measurements per minute. This allows developers to build a much more detailed picture of a site, not only significantly reducing uncertainty of spatial variation, but also allowing developers to better plan the layouts of the turbines to best exploit the individual wind conditions at the site.

Katharina Garus / Carbon Trust

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