Simulating Long-Distance Wind Farm Wake Propagation Using Numerical Weather Prediction Models

Speaker: Mike Optis

Date: Fri, Jul 28, 2023

Location: PIMS, University of British Columbia, Online

Conference: PIMS-FACTS Workshop on Forecasting and Mathematical modeling for Renewable Energy

Subject: Mathematics, Applied Mathematics, Atmospheric and Oceanic Physics: Climate Modelling

Class: Scientific


Growing evidence is demonstrating the startling reach of wind farm wakes, which can often exceed 100 kilometers under frequently occurring stable atmospheric conditions. These "long wakes" can significantly affect the annual energy yield of neighboring wind farms. Unfortunately, this impact is not accounted for in industry-standard wind resource assessment methods, leading to consistent overestimations of energy production and the suboptimal placement of new wind farms. As the global wind farm fleet continues to rapidly grow, the development of tools to assess these impacts is crucial prior to making any major investments in new project sites.

In this presentation, we will elucidate how numerical weather prediction (NWP) modeling is emerging as the preferred tool for simulating long-wake propagation. We will initially discuss the physical mechanisms underlying long-wake propagation, and provide observational evidence substantiating their occurrence. Subsequently, we will delve into the suitability of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) NWP model for long-wake modeling, specifically its ability to accurately simulate diurnal and seasonal atmospheric stability fluctuations and its capacity to model wake propagation through its wind farm parameterization option. In conclusion, we will present encouraging validation results from five onshore wind farms in the U.S., reinforcing the potential and accuracy of the WRF model in tackling this growing issue.