Wind energy, particularly offshore wind, needs to radically scale up to meet renewable energy needs. As this scale up is happening, the sustainability, equity, efficiency, and reliability of these new wind farms also needs to be assured. Large improvements in efficiency can radically increase the amount of reliance society places in these new power sources, while even small advancements can lead to big savings in terms of embodied carbon. How can we support rapid adoption, while embracing societal equity issues in that adoption in parallel with improved engineering solutions for efficiency, reliability, and sustainability? These inter-connected issues drive ROSEI’s efforts in the wind energy field.
An Initiative Underway
Wind power is rising. Having grown from supplying less than 2 to over 8% of US electricity in only a few years, this renewable source of energy is a disruptive technology that can help usher in a sustainable energy future. One impediment to increasing reliance on this clean, sustainable power source is the vast size of many windfarms and the challenge of understanding turbine-turbine and turbine-atmosphere interactions. These interactions affect wind farm performance on a variety of levels—from power output to turbine loading and maintenance.
High performance computer simulations can help by providing detailed insights into fluid mechanical effects associated with turbine placement, layouts, and environmental factors. Led by Dennice Gayme and Charles Meneveau, ROSEI has started an initiative focused on creating a public database of windfarm simulations, which will allow anyone with an internet connection to easily access and analyze the data in order to conduct research, generate knowledge, and evaluate models or wind field data to be used in wind farm planning or development projects.
“Each type of user will be able to very easily access and analyze data that is of interest to them,” Meneveau says. “They will be able to take data from a synthetic windfarm and explore all of its spatio-temporal facets, at a level of detail that is impossible to achieve with existing datasets. The fact that you can come back and look at one location in detail and ask some very specific questions within this big simulation will be unprecedented and be very exciting for many researchers. We expect it to give access to scientists of many backgrounds and facilitate a variety of different types of science and engineering.”
Gayme credits the creation of ROSEI with making her longtime goal of finding support for the new database project a reality.
“A lot of people thought it was a good idea, but it seemed that nobody wanted to put money forward for it,” Gayme says. “Johns Hopkins is known for these databases, so ROSEI provided a vehicle for funding, but more than that, ROSEI correctly viewed this as an opportunity to showcase what sort of work Hopkins can do in this area. This database has the potential to be a great tool that will hopefully help researchers all over the world and help harness the most we can get out of wind energy.”
“This database has the potential to be a great tool that will hopefully help researchers all over the world and help harness the most we can get out of wind energy.”
Accessible to All
These simulations are expensive and produce huge datasets comprising tens to hundreds of terabytes, putting them out of reach of researchers without the requisite computational skills, substantial financial resources, and/or access to technology required. That the JHU Wind Farm Database will be usable by all should help expand the world’s research in the wind energy field.
“This database has the potential to be a great tool that will hopefully help researchers all over the world and help harness the most we can get out of wind energy,” Gayme says.
“We are also working in close collaboration with IDIES, and utilizing their infrastructure of resources, ranging from computers and servers to a staff of system managers and programmers that have data from all sorts of fields.”
Gayme and Meneveau are using the Johns Hopkins Turbulence Database (JHTDB) as a model, which is hosted by the Institute for Data Intensive Engineering and Science (IDIES). “The hope is it will have a similar look and feel, and that researchers will be able to perform similar tasks, just with wind velocity and wind turbine data instead of fundamental turbulence datasets,” says Meneveau, who is the associate director for IDIES.
In fact, IDIES researchers and staff will play a critical role in JHU Wind Farm Database. “We are also working in close collaboration with IDIES, and utilizing their infrastructure of resources, ranging from computers and servers to a staff of system managers and programmers that have data from all sorts of fields,” Meneveau says.
- Institute for Data Intensive Engineering and Science (IDIES)
- Department of Mechanical Engineering
ROSEI Affiliated Researcher Q&A: Dennice Gayme, Associate Professor, ROSEI Website
Additional ROSEI Efforts in Wind Energy
In addition to the fundamental fluid mechanics and control, ROSEI researchers are working on grid integration of wind energy, unique carbon capture ideas utilizing wind farms, operational reliability of offshore wind farms, and fundamental efficiency and reliability of wind turbine structures. Along with our partners, ROSEI aims to be a key contributor to the equitable and successful adoption of wind energy.