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The Race for Wind

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Remote Sensing Replaces Meteorological Towers in Growing Wind Power Market

August 21st 2013

London Array

Meteorological towers will increasingly give way in the coming years to remote sensing devices, such as sound detection and ranging (sodar) and light detection and ranging (lidar) systems forecasts market analyst, Navigant Research.

The wind power market currently provides almost three percent of global electricity production and as the wind power industry matures, wind forecasting technologies such as meteorological towers are becoming critical in order to integrate greater amounts of variable wind energy into the grid.  Meteorological towers, or met towers, the predominant solution at present, serve a range of forecasting needs.  

“As wind turbines grow in size, met towers are no longer cost-effective, and the value proposition for using met towers alone is rapidly vanishing,” explained Feng Zhao, managing consultant with Navigant Research.  “Additionally, pressure from grid operators demanding more accurate power scheduling from wind farm operators and the challenges of lowering the cost of offshore wind energy are making remote sensing devices increasingly attractive.”

Both sodar and lidar, the two primary technology approaches to remote sensing, are based on ground-mounted devices that use Doppler effect analysis to measure the wind space above the unit. The market dynamic between sodar and lidar is evolving and unsettled, the study concludes, as these technologies are effectively competing for market leadership but no clear front-runner has emerged. Navigant's report entitled 'Wind Forecasting and Data Analytics' examines the market for remote sensing devices and met towers for wind forecasting, as well as disruptive remote sensing-based wind turbine control technology.

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