In our previous Meet & Greet posts, we have been focusing largely on sensors that are often found in resource assessment and meteorology, but in this post, we will look at a different technology that measures wind resource—LiDARs!

Light Detection and Ranging methods (LiDARs) have been used for years by the wind industry, for both onshore and offshore projects. With their versatility to be incorporated throughout the different stages of a renewable energy project and their ability to be easily redeployed, their uses have gained a lot of popularity for onshore projects over recent years.

Getting Acquainted

An advantage of using a LiDAR in a measuring campaign is, of course, its capability to sense wind speed and direction without the use of a physical structure holding up anemometers and wind vanes. LiDARs also offer a solution to enabling system redundancy and measurement campaign reinforcement, thereby increasing the quality of the general overall measurement campaign. However, it is how it does this that uncovers a LiDAR’s full value.

A Deeper Dive

LiDARs utilise refined laser technology to measure air mass displacement, often called Doppler shift, basically capturing wind speed and direction remotely with lasers. That said, unlike most meteorological towers these days, which typically don’t exceed 200m in height, some models of LiDARs with newer technology can measure wind up to 300m above ground level. This can help inform project development and design by measuring potential wind velocities at a turbine’s tip-height and through the whole swept area. Though we are not suggesting this will meet all your needs, it is a sophisticated tool that when applied appropriately, can probably help obtain better data.

WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?)

With a LiDAR’s ability to obtain wind resource data without installing a met tower, this translates into a number of operational/practical benefits. For example, because LiDARs are easy to deploy and can be deployed quickly, they can be temporarily used in settings where getting a building permit cannot be done in a timely manner, yet the project needs to start collecting data as soon as possible in order to manage resource risk. Another situation where a LiDAR could be deployed before building a met tower is preliminary site assessment and analysis. Since a full installation of a met tower can be a big investment with a chance that it may end up just being a sunk cost, a LiDAR can be helpful in alleviating that risk by testing at a high level whether a proposed project site has enough wind resource to be deemed worthy of investment. For operational wind projects, a LiDAR can be installed horizontally on a nacelle to improve yaw control and conduct power performance tests.

Interested in learning more about LiDARs and what Energy Canvas has to offer for remote sensing? Stay tuned for our next post!