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World's largest wind mapping project gets underway at Perdigão – 15th February

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Over five months, an international team of researchers will thoroughly measure the site in eastern Portugal through an unprecedented array of meteorological equipment to study the speed, direction and other characteristics of the world’s most detailed wind mapping project. The study aims to determine the properties of wind flow over complex terrain which can be used in turn to improve computer modelling and enable engineers to improve wind yield from turbines.

Sara Pryor, an atmospheric scientist at Cornell University, stated that the project “will be utterly transformative in both understanding the physics of the atmosphere and also how to optimally use wind energy”.

From using the data from Perdigão, researchers will be able to apply the findings in other locations, which should lead to improved atmospheric modelling in the wind energy industry. For example, whilst Europe gets 11% of its total energy from wind, just a 10% shift in wind speed can alter the amount of energy produced by up to 30%. Perdigão looks to improve models which have been based on a simpler field experiment conducted on a hill in Askervein in the UK in the 1980s.

The majority of the equipment for the project is already operational, however researchers will install the rest throughout February. The total scheme comprises of 54 masts to measure wind speed, direction, humidity and other factors, whilst there are a further 22 instruments to study small scale wind flow using the laser based technique lidar.

The Perdigão, which is funded with $3.4m from the National Science Foundation hopes to push large scale wind mapping to resolutions of 100-500m as opposed to current resolutions of 1km, which represents a significant improvement.

To read the full article from Nature, please click here.

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