Reducing Wind Resource Uncertainty in Brazil
Last year’s drought in Brazil caused not only a water shortage but also an energy crisis, as three-quarters of the country’s electricity is generated by hydroelectric power. This added an extra layer of pressure to the government incentives that are already in place to encourage development of the country’s rich wind resources.
A complex policy environment makes wind energy development especially challenging in Brazil. A leading renewable energy developer, PEC Energia, is using remote sensing systems to gain a competitive edge. Here are some lessons they learned:
It’s Not a Tower
You can get much richer wind data from remote sensing systems than from met towers. They measure at higher heights, and they measure at more heights. You can move them around a site much more easily to reduce topographical uncertainty. This matters because wind turbines are often much taller than met towers, and large tracts of land often need to be measured.
A remote sensing system is not identical to a tower. It’s a tool that can be used and re-used. By using Triton to reduce uncertainty throughout the project lifecycle, PEC Energia is able to realize much greater returns on their development activities.
PEC Energia initially bought a Triton for shear validation, but quickly realized that it has broader application throughout their wind project development activities. The company now uses Tritons for:
- Validating shear extrapolations made from measurements with met towers
- Confirming initial estimates made from wind maps before investing in a full wind resource assessment campaign
- Reducing the uncertainty associated with complex terrain and complex wind flow
- Reducing delays in wind resource assessment campaigns
Benefits of Greater Certainty
Traditionally, wind energy developers think about reducing uncertainty in terms of following the guidelines set by the project’s financiers. In Brazil, renewable energy companies are often operating the same projects they develop, and penalties for underproduction are costly. One of PEC Energia’s development team put it simply: “We used the Triton for our own estimates because we want to be sure of how much energy we can produce.”