Getting more data in less time

Swedish energy giant Vattenfall has for a long time known that some of the answers on how to combat climate change are ‘blowing in the wind’. As Europe’s sixth largest producer of electricity, the company has been working with wind-generated energy production for over 30 years. This platform of experience has provided Vattenfall with a unique knowledge base that today continues to grow with the help of AQ 500 Wind Finder.

From his office in the Stockholm suburb of Råcksta, Daniel Gustafsson is keeping track of wind direction trends in Sweden and beyond. It’s a tricky challenge that during the past couple of years has become somewhat easier thanks to the AQ 500 Wind Finder.

“I did my degree thesis about the potential of sodar (sonic detection and ranging) technology for Vattenfall when I studied at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in 2008,” he says. “At the time the company had just one AQ 500 systems, whereas today we use 17 with five more being delivered.”

The dramatic increase in the number of AQ 500 systems is based on two factors: greater interest in producing electricity with the help of wind power; and a need for more flexible measuring methods to identify optimum wind source locations.

“AQ 500 is a cost efficient solution that offers several advantages over other measuring methods,” says Daniel. “For instance, no building permits are required because the system is mobile with set-up taking less than an hour in most cases. Furthermore, maintenance is minimal as AQ 500 has a good energy solution, while the system also provides correct data independent of weather conditions.”

Today Vattenfall has around 100 wind turbines operating in Sweden, with approximately 50 more being erected in Stor-Rotliden and Östra Herrestad where the AQ 500 Wind Finder has been used to collect part of the data. Such impressive development has made Vattenfall one of the fastest growing wind power operators in Europe.

“I spend a lot of time analysing the wind data we gather from our measurement equipment,” continues Daniel. “Right now we have several AQ 500 systems on different sites around Sweden that transmit daily reports based on 10 minutes intervals. My hope is that we will soon be using this solution for our prospects in Germany, the UK and the Netherlands.”

At this point in time Daniel Gustafsson only sees one big limitation with sodar: the wind power industry’s reluctance to embrace new measuring technologies.

“Even though the technology has been used by airports for over 40 years, a lot of the wind turbine manufactures are conservative and cautious about accepting sodar as a method of measurement,” he says. “As a result we plan to participate in a study, with the objective of getting the AQ 500 Wind Finder approved for prospecting without the need of additional met masts.”

If the project is successful Daniel Gustafsson thinks Vattenfall will be able to work even more efficiently when it comes to developing future wind farms.

“AQ 500 is a flexible solution that helps us get more data, from several points, in less time,” he concludes.

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