o2 Vind

Northern exposure

Finding wind in northern Sweden can be a rough affair. Despite global warming this remote geographical area will still provide heaps of snow, plenty of ice and temperatures well below -20°C during winter. But these facts don’t give o2 Vind the chills as the company continues to establish new sites all over the region using the speed of sound as its guide.

The Sweden-based o2 group has an interesting business model that centres on its clients becoming part owners of the wind farms that provide them with electricity. This idea doesn’t only lead to lower energy costs for the customer, but also helps with the premise of establishing new wind power stations in the future.

“We are one of the leading wind power companies in Sweden and have built about a quarter of the wind power stations in the country since the early nineties,” says wind resource analyst Kristoffer Lager. “o2 Vind has developed wind farms both at sea and on land but we are now focusing on our northern mountain region.”

Working in the mountains helps o2 Vind to utilise the weather conditions in high terrain, where the wind pressure increases when the air gets compressed due to differences in elevation. It’s amongst these harsh climatic conditions that Kristoffer, with a background in meteorology, enjoys his work the most.

“I like being outside even if the weather is bad, however, I can’t always say the same for my measuring gear,” he states. “It’s not only wind power stations that have problems with the cold, our met masts have been affected by deposits of ice that give us both inaccurate data and damaged equipment.”

Although o2 Vind was Sweden’s first company to use traditional met mast technology, it was clear that an alternative measuring method was required to cope with the inclement northern weather. As a result, the company today deploys a total of 21 AQ 500 Wind Finder systems, which use sound-based sodar (sonic detection and ranging) technology.

“This method of measuring isn’t only more resistant to the cold it’s also easier to set-up in remote areas far from any highway,” says Kristoffer. “We have even deployed the AQ 500 by helicopter on five or six occasions.”

At the present time, o2 Vind is involved in the development of around 30 different wind projects in Sweden. Kristoffer and his colleagues therefore hope that the sodar technology used in AQ 500 soon will be accepted as an industry standard.

“The benefit of AQ 500 doesn’t only apply to the severe temperatures in Sweden but to any weather conditions or terrain that is out of the ordinary,” he concludes. “It’s simply a more flexible and cost effective system that, in my opinion, gives more consistent measuring data in cold conditions.”

www.o2.se

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Pelle Hurtig

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