Wind Resource and Wind Forecasting

 

Before deciding to build a wind farm in a certain location one needs to assess the wind resource - in other words one needs to have a good idea of the long term potential of the resource. Once the wind farm is built the operator of the facility needs to forecast the wind strength in the short term (from seconds to one week out) in order to get a good idea of how much electricity the facility will produce in the same time period. A good hydrocarbon comparison would be that estimating the size of a natural gas field is analogous to assessing the wind resource while forecasting spot natural gas prices is analogous to wind forecasting.   

This article is dedicated to wind resource assessment with some high level maps of the long-term, average, resource potential of North America generally and Saskatchewan specifically. For more information on wind forecasting - a good place to start is this 2010 Economist article.

Wind Resource Assessment

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) 'Global Atlas for Renewable Energy' is a powerful tool which allows anyone to get an idea of renewable energy resources (wind, solar, hydro, bioenergy, geothermal and marine) anywhere in the world. Scroll through the maps at the bottom of the page to find the resource you want. As of October 2015 IRENA substantially increased the resolution & other features, of their wind map (look for the 'DTU Global Wind Atlas 1 km resolution' in the maps at the bottom of the page). 

The following is a screen print of the wind map for North America with Saskatchewan shown by the black rectangle at the top of the map. The second map shows the  same area in slightly more detail and with key Saskatchewan cities in order to provide some context. The third map provides real-time wind data for any location on the planet.

In summary: Saskatchewan has some of the best wind resource in Canada and North America.

 

WIND RESOURCE ATLAS OF NORTH AMERICA

Showing SK in Outline

See below for a map with SK City names

Source: IRENA Global Atlas & 3TIER  Global Wind Resource Data

Source: IRENA Global Atlas & 3TIER  Global Wind Resource Data

 

WIND RESOURCE ATLAS OF NORTH AMERICA 

Source: IRENA Global Atlas & 3TIER  Global Wind Resource Data

Source: IRENA Global Atlas & 3TIER  Global Wind Resource Data

 

The following interactive is dead cool - it shows real time wind speeds at any location on the planet. Zoom out and you may see a massive storm-system in one of the world's oceans.

 

LIVE FEED:  GLOBAL WIND RESOURCE MAP