NREL creates SOWFA, a new software tool that can optimize entire wind farm performance output

By: InnovatioNews Thursday October 9, 2014 0 comments Tags: Golden, NREL, Paul Fleming, SOWFA, wind energy


GOLDEN - The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has created a new software tool to help developers improve the performance of not just one wind turbine but an entire wind farm.

The tool, called Simulator for Wind Farm Applications (SOWFA), can calculate how undulating ground, whipping blades, surface temperatures and other variables alter air flow and energy production at wind farms, NREL said.

NREL said SOWFA's key innovation is that it simulates an extensive range of scales, from regional weather patterns down to the space between turbines and all the way to the movement of electrons.

The tool gives a complete picture of an active plant, showing how controlling each turbine can influence the direction of wakes and the effect on downwind turbines.

NREL said SOWFA is an open-source software platform available free to academics, investors, wind developers and manufacturers. Users have the support of an online forum to discuss problems and solutions with other SOWFA users.

NREL said the tool can cut wake losses in wind farms by half and - if employed at wind farms across the world - could save billions of dollars.

"Wake, from a power perspective, is lower-energy wind," said Paul Fleming, NREL senior engineer. "If you can move away that deficit of energy, you will have faster winds and more overall production at the wind farm."

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