WIAP - Wind Power Integrated Applications Program

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This study aims to identify and realise the benefits that can be brought to the wind power service industry by integrating new and/or improved space capabilities. The study focusses on the users/stakeholders of the wind industry to understand their needs, with the aim to identify a potential gap in the infrastructure. The validity of the defined integrated space based solution will be demonstrated by addressing the identified technology gap and by proving capable of being developed into a sustainable service with economic and non-economic benefits and high user uptake.

Objectives of the service

This study is part of ESA’s ARTES 20 Integrated Applications Program (IAP). The aim of this study is to identify and demonstrate the potential for delivering a sustainable service and/or add value to the existing services for Wind Power Industry, using capabilities available from space such as Earth Observation, Satellite Navigation and Satellite Communications.

The intention of this study is to assess key challenges within the Wind Power Industry end-to-end service chain, from planning to operations and maintenance, before focussing on a solution. This is done with significant involvement of users/stakeholders from different sectors of the wind industry and by considering economic and non-economic aspects affecting the viability of the potential service. Based on the outcome of the end user engagement and viability analysis, an adequate integrated solution will be defined and a proof of concept conducted. It is also the aim of this study to define the future roadmap and recommendations in order to successfully progress the work done here to a demonstration project phase. This engagement of users/stakeholders throughout this study and on the planned future demonstration project is vital for success. 

Users and their needs

The activities undertaken in this study are expected to have an impact on:

Owner/Operator – Owns and/or operates wind farms.

Utility – Responsible for generation and/or distribution of power.

Grid Operator – Provides the grid connections for wind farms and operates the grid where wind farms supply power.

Finance/ Investment – Finances wind farms, typically by supplying loans to owners at the development stage.

Consultant – Advises, or delivers services to, stakeholders in all stages of wind farm development and operation.

Weather Company – Supplies weather forecasts to wind farm owners/ operators and consultants, used to estimate the power production of a farm.

Research Academia – Conduct studies and research that help determine long-term strategy for wind power service chain

Responses to the survey questionnaire and end user participation in the workshop have brought to light many user needs:

  • Possibility of remote maintenance of wind farms due to restricted physical accessibility in isolated areas
  • Use of high resolution surface data for improvement to short term forecasts and long term energy assessments
  • Remote assessments of soil conditions, covering relatively large areas in order to reduce initial survey costs
  • Monitoring of accumulation of ice on wind turbines during cold climates for purpose of assessment of expected outputs and operational maintenance planning
  • Improvements to wind resource maps particularly for offshore, for improved long term wind resource assessments
  • Monitoring of wakes from large wind farms for improving wind farm modelling
  • Sea state monitoring both for planning and operation of wind farms with respect to the likely wave loading characteristics

Service/ system concept

Out of the survey performed, the workshop and further internal discussions, the three most promising applications are the utilisation of high resolution surface data; improving Wind resource maps; and improving ship traffic density maps.

Space Added Value

Existing services provided to the wind industry (weather forecast, forecast models, surface data providers etc.) produce data from systems closely integrating terrestrial and space techniques. The aim of this study is to bring improvement to these systems as a whole by providing better or introducing new space assets. Adding value to an existing infrastructure is challenging not only from the market competitors’ perspective but also from the cost vs benefit context and therefore, a detailed assessment of the economic and non-economic benefits of the new solution is a necessity for uptake of the proposed solution.

Product Benefits

Weather models and prediction systems use a combination of terrestrial methods and space data that have matured over a large number of years. Both these are thoroughly understood and have been operational for many years. However, the space technology has been evolving with respect to the remote sensing and navigation technology and data processing techniques, both of which have a potential to improve upon the existing systems. There is a potential to generate higher resolution wind estimation data from remotely sensed space products and/or improve the existing wind resource maps by merging data from various different space instruments and data products. Wind resource assessment forms the first step in assessing the suitability of a site for wind farm placement. A good quality, high resolution and accurate wind resource map is a key input to this task. 

Site parameter characterisation is also an important factor to consider during the planning and operations phase. Again current methods use both terrestrial and space services but any improvement brought in terms of coverage, resolution and frequency of update for characterising land, sea and atmospheric properties such as temperature, humidity, snow cover etc. by use of the latest available or maturing space data and technology is expected to be met with potentially a high user uptake.

Product Features

  • Engage with different types of users of the wind industry service chain to understand their needs and problems. Also, gain knowledge on currently used space data or alternatives and gaps in the infrastructure where new/improved space assets could be used. This also includes making end users aware of the space technology and capabilities.
  • Based on the user needs and problem scenarios, down-select to those, with potential for high user uptake and draw high level end user requirements for these.
  • For selected applications, conduct a state-of-the-art analysis for currently used space and wind technology and a viability analysis involving economic, legal and market analyses to highlight strengths and weaknesses of existing services, potential gaps and competitors.
  • Based on the above, select a single application, considered most beneficial to the wind industry and provide a solution with potential integration of various space capabilities. Also define architecture, interfaces, stakeholders and system level requirements and conduct economic and non-economic analyses to assess the viability of the solution.
  • Use the definition of the integrated solution to proceed to a proof of concept stage. Produce results according to the architecture using new or improved space data into the existing wind industry infrastructure. The output of this exercise will require user engagement to validate the results and to gain their feedback.
  • Finally, based on the work performed so far and results obtained, document the key findings and outcomes. Provide recommendations for future evolutions and a roadmap for a potential demonstration project, defining the end-to-end service chain. Arrange or present at an existing awareness event, for the benefit of wind industry end user community, the results of this study and expected further steps. 

Key Issues

The wind power industry, both offshore and onshore, is highly reliant on accurate and precise weather forecasts and on the characterisation of land and sea properties. Both these have a direct impact on the expected wind energy output and therefore the expected revenue. Currently used systems use a combination of terrestrial and space technologies to satisfy the wind industry needs but there is always a requirement for better data. With the advancement in remote sensing, navigation technology and data processing, there is a high potential for improving the existing services and providing better quality data at higher frequency, resolution and/or better coverage. 

Current Status

The Proof of Concept (PoC) task has taken place and processing runs were executed using new or improved space data into the existing wind industry infrastructure. Results have been assessed by the End User and the experts within the consortium and a viability analysis has also been performed.

Based on the results obtained, the key findings and outcomes have been documented including recommendations for future evolutions.

An awareness event has been held at the annual European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) conference in Barcelona on 10-13 March 2014. The presentation was made at the DNV GL stand within the exhibition area, with an audience of approximately 15 people.


Status Date

Updated: 26 May 2014 - Created: 15 February 2014