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S. C. Pryor
,
F.W. Letson
, and
R. J. Barthelmie

Abstract

ERA5 provides high-resolution, high-quality hourly wind speeds at 100 m and is a unique resource for quantifying temporal variability in likely wind-derived power production across the United States. Gross capacity factors (CF) in seven independent system operators (ISOs) are estimated using the location and rated power of each wind turbine, a simplified power curve, and ERA5 output from 1979 to 2018. Excluding the California ISO, the marginal probability of a calm (zero power production) is less than 0.1 in any ERA5 grid cell. When a calm occurs, the mean co-occurrence across wind-turbine-containing grid cells ranges from 0.38 to 0.39 for ISOs in the Midwest and central plains [Midcontinent (or Midwest) ISO (MISO), Southwest Power Pool (SPP), and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region], increasing to 0.54–0.58 for ISOs in the eastern United States [Pennsylvania–New Jersey–Maryland interconnection (PJM), New York ISO (NYISO), and New England ISO (NEISO)]. Periods with low gross CF have a median duration of ≤6 h, except in California, and are most likely during summer. Gross CF exhibit highest variance at periods of 1 day in ERCOT and SPP; on synoptic scales in MISO, NEISO, and NYISO; and on interannual time scales in PJM. This implies differences in optimal strategies for ensuring resilience of supply. Theoretical scenarios show adding wind energy capacity near existing wind farms is advantageous even in areas with high existing installed capacity (IC), while expanding into areas with lower IC is more beneficial to reducing ramps and the probability of gross CF falling below 20%. These results emphasize the benefits of large balancing areas and aggregation in reducing wind power variability and the likelihood of wind droughts.

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S. C. Pryor
,
F. Letson
,
T. Shepherd
, and
R. J. Barthelmie

Abstract

The Southern Great Plains (SGP) region exhibits a relatively high frequency of periods with extremely high rainfall rates (RR) and hail. Seven months of 2017 are simulated using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model applied at convection-permitting resolution with the Milbrandt–Yau microphysics scheme. Simulation fidelity is evaluated, particularly during intense convective events, using data from ASOS stations, dual-polarization radar, and gridded datasets and observations at the DOE Atmospheric Radiation Measurement site. The spatial gradients and temporal variability of precipitation and the cumulative density functions for both RR and wind speeds exhibit fidelity. Odds ratios > 1 indicate that WRF is also skillful in simulating high composite reflectivity (cREF, used as a measure of widespread convection) and RR > 5 mm h−1 over the domain. Detailed analyses of the 10 days with highest spatial coverage of cREF > 30 dBZ show spatially similar reflectivity fields and high RR in both radar data and WRF simulations. However, during periods of high reflectivity, WRF exhibits a positive bias in terms of very high RR (>25 mm h−1) and hail occurrence, and during the summer and transition months, maximum hail size is underestimated. For some renewable energy applications, fidelity is required with respect to the joint probabilities of wind speed and RR and/or hail. While partial fidelity is achieved for the marginal probabilities, performance during events of critical importance to these energy applications is currently not sufficient. Further research into optimal WRF configurations in support of potential damage quantification for these applications is warranted.

Significance Statement

Heavy rainfall and hail during convective events are challenging for numerical models to simulate in both space and time. For some applications, such as to estimate damage to wind turbine blades and solar panels, fidelity is also required with respect to hail size and joint probabilities of wind speed and hydrometeor type and rainfall rates (RR). This demands fidelity that is seldom evaluated. We show that, although this simulation exhibits fidelity for the marginal probabilities of wind speed, RR, and hail occurrence, the joint probabilities of these properties and the simulation of maximum size of hail are, as yet, not sufficient to characterize potential damage to these renewable energy industries.

Free access
W. Hu
,
F. Letson
,
R. J. Barthelmie
, and
S. C. Pryor

Abstract

Improved understanding of wind gusts in complex terrain is critically important to wind engineering and specifically the wind energy industry. Observational data from 3D sonic anemometers deployed at 3 and 65 m at a site in moderately complex terrain within the northeastern United States are used to calculate 10 descriptors of wind gusts and to determine the parent distributions that best describe these parameters. It is shown that the parent distributions exhibit consistency across different descriptors of the gust climate. Specifically, the parameters that describe the gust intensity (gust amplitude, rise magnitude, and lapse magnitude; i.e., properties that have units of length per time) fit the two-parameter Weibull distribution, those that are unitless ratios (gust factor and peak factor) are described by log-logistic distributions, and all other properties (peak gust, rise and lapse times, gust asymmetric factor, and gust length scale) are lognormally distributed. It is also shown that gust factors scale with turbulence intensity, but gusts are distinguishable in power spectra of the longitudinal wind component (i.e., they have demonstrably different length scales than the average eddy length scale). Gust periods at the lower measurement height (3 m) are consistent with shear production, whereas at 65 m they are not. At this site, there is only a weak directional dependence of gust properties on site terrain and land cover variability along sectorial transects, but large gust length scales and gust factors are more likely to be observed in unstable atmospheric conditions.

Full access
F. Letson
,
T. J. Shepherd
,
R. J. Barthelmie
, and
S. C. Pryor

Abstract

Deep convection and the related occurrence of hail, intense precipitation, and wind gusts represent a hazard to a range of energy infrastructure including wind turbine blades. Wind turbine blade leading-edge erosion (LEE) is caused by the impact of falling hydrometeors onto rotating wind turbine blades. It is a major source of wind turbine maintenance costs and energy losses from wind farms. In the U.S. southern Great Plains (SGP), where there is widespread wind energy development, deep convection and hail events are common, increasing the potential for precipitation-driven LEE. A 25-day Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model simulation conducted at convection-permitting resolution and using a detailed microphysics scheme is carried out for the SGP to evaluate the effectiveness in modeling the wind and precipitation conditions relevant to LEE potential. WRF output for these properties is evaluated using radar observations of precipitation (including hail) and reflectivity, in situ wind speed measurements, and wind power generation. This research demonstrates some skill for the primary drivers of LEE. Wind speeds, rainfall rates, and precipitation totals show good agreement with observations. The occurrence of precipitation during power-producing wind speeds is also shown to exhibit fidelity. Hail events frequently occur during periods when wind turbines are rotating and are especially important to LEE in the SGP. The presence of hail is modeled with a mean proportion correct of 0.77 and an odds ratio of 4.55. Further research is needed to demonstrate sufficient model performance to be actionable for the wind energy industry, and there is evidence for positive model bias in cloud reflectivity.

Free access