Record worldwide growth for wind power has led to a need for variable wind energy to integrate effectively on the larger power grid. Wind forecasting and data analytics technologies have become a key element in the rapid deployment of wind plants.
According to a new report from Navigant Research, annual revenue from meteorological towers, or met towers, and remote sensing devices for wind forecasting will surpass $300 million by 2020.
“Wind, as a fuel, is free, but wind plants are capital-intensive and require exhaustive study,” says Feng Zhao, managing consultant with Navigant Research. “With wind now playing an increasingly important role in utilities’ overall energy portfolios, wind forecasting technologies and rigorous data analysis have become essential not only to improve grid integration, but also for wind turbine optimization.”
As wind turbines grow in size, the value proposition for using met towers alone is rapidly vanishing, according to the report. A large proportion of turbine deployments in North America and Europe now use 100-meter hub heights, meaning that a typical 60-meter met tower introduces additional uncertainty at those heights.
Since most 100-meter towers are not cost-effective for project site assessment, remote sensing devices — including sound detection and ranging and light detection and ranging systems — have entered the market in recent years.