Wind Power Program

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The Wind Power Program is a legacy program that harnessed national wind speed data to provide accurate estimates of how much energy can be derived from wind turbines in any particular location.

I first became aware of the program when it was demonstrated to me by my college professor at Oregon, who was an early adapter of this technology.

Although the software itself is now obsolete and no longer supported, the wind-power-program website, which is now part of renewable energy resources at TheRoundup.org, also contained a wealth of useful articles and background information about wind power.

This includes articles on wind statistics, the calculation of mean power, maximum turbine efficiency, and the intermittent nature of wind power. All of these remain extremely relevant to anyone who is interested in installing home wind turbines or even to those planning commercial wind farms.

Therefore we are delighted to have the opportunity to preserve and present this information to you (with updates for 2022 where applicable).

About the Wind-Power-Program

The Wind Power Program was designed by PelaFlow Consulting. Its purpose was to present the Department of Energy and Climate Change's database in a more user-friendly form and to give users a better feel for the link between wind speed profiles and topography

What was the Wind Power Program?

The Wind Power Program was an interactive computer program that was used to calculate the performance of wind turbines ranging from small domestic units with rotors of a meter or two in diameter up to the largest commercial units with rotor diameters of around 100 meters in diameter.

It was used for both horizontal axis wind turbines (HAWTs) and vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs). It calculated mean power and annual energy outputs and enables the economics of a particular turbine to be estimated as a function of the mean wind speed at the site.

Who was it for?

The wind-power-program was aimed at a range of potential users, which included the following:

  • An individual user who is interested in a small 'domestic' wind turbine and wants to assess the performance and economics of a possible installation. Domestic installations can be used to reduce energy bills, charge electric cars or electric bikes, (making them truly zero emission), or even in some cases to go off-grid altogether.
  • A land owner (farmer or estate) interested in a medium to large wind turbine who wants to assess the performance and economics of a possible installation.
  • A wind turbine installer as a sales presentation aid in outlining the characteristics and options of an installation.
  • A consultancy firm advising clients on wind turbine applications.
  • An organization like a school, supermarket, or any company considering the installation of a turbine on their premises.
  • Planning authorities who are responsible for assessing and monitoring wind turbine proposals.
  • College and university students on courses on renewable energy (as I mentioned earlier, this is how I first came across the program myself).

What did the Wind Power Program do?

From basic manufacturers' data, the software was able to calculate the following outputs:-

  • The mean power and annual energy output as a function of mean wind speed and the level of wind variability.
  • Estimates of the return on investment as a function of mean wind speed and reference electricity costs.
  • Estimates of the payback period in relation to home wind turbine costs.
  • Estimates of the cost per kilowatt-hour as a function of mean wind speed and turbine lifetime.
  • A power output profile showing the percentage of time that the turbine produces different levels of power including the zero-power output case.
  • For a turbine using energy output locally, an estimate of how much energy will be used locally and how much will be exported to the grid.

Wind Statistics and the Weibull Distribution

The Wind Power Program website contained various statistics (previously located at http://www.wind-power-program.com/wind_statistics.htm) which were related to wind speed and power outputs.

These have been updated with the latest 2022 data, and expanded to include global wind energy statistics and facts which can be cited in your own articles, and also a variety of graphics and charts which can be shared with attribution under the creative commons license.

When combined with our extensive research on the latest solar power statistics, you can get an accurate and up-to-date picture of the latest state of global renewable energy.

Generalized results on the intermittency of wind power and its cost implications

Wind turbines produce power intermittently due to their nature - there is not always any wind at all, no matter where the turbine is located, and even when there is wind, its strength will vary.

For this reason, energy planners must factor in the intermittency of the wind in any location and have storage or alternative methods of electricity generation in place.

The wind estimates articles take a deep dive into how to calculate the standard deviation of fluctuating wind power in order to produce the most accurate estimates of a turbine's mean power output.

Wind Turbine Power Curves

A wind turbine power curve is a graph that shows how much power a turbine can produce at different wind speeds. The power output of a turbine increases as the wind speed increases, but only up to a certain point. After that, the power output levels off or even decreases.

Turbine manufacturers use power curves to help determine the optimum size and design of a turbine for a particular location. Wind farm developers also use them to estimate the expected power output of a proposed project.

Power curves are an important tool for understanding and predicting the performance of wind turbines. Since wind turbine characteristics differ, each make and model should come with its own power curve.

The Betz limit and the maximum efficiency for horizontal axis wind turbines

The Betz limit is the maximum achievable power efficiency of a wind turbine. The limit was first proposed by German engineer Albert Betz in 1924.

According to the Betz limit, the maximum possible efficiency for a wind turbine is 59.3%. This means that for every 100 units of energy that are incident on the turbine, only 59 units can be converted into useful work.

The Betz limit is often cited as a reason why wind turbines will never be able to achieve 100% efficiency. However, it is important to note that the Betz limit only applies to horizontal-axis wind turbines.

Vertical-axis turbines are not subject to the same constraints and could potentially achieve greater efficiencies. Nevertheless, the Betz limit remains an important theoretical limit on the power output of wind turbines.

Windpower Program / Wind Speed Database Alternatives

Since the Wind Power Program is no longer supported, what are your alternatives? Well, one of the reasons that the software became obsolete was the emergence of free online tools which could do the same job.

There are a number of online wind speed databases that provide all the information you need on global wind speeds. These can be useful for a variety of purposes, such as determining whether an area is suitable for wind energy development or planning for construction projects. The datasets typically include data from a variety of sources, including weather stations, satellites, and aircraft.

The data is often presented in the form of maps or graphs, making it easy to find the information you need. Some of the more popular online wind speed databases include the Global Wind Atlas and the European Wind Atlas.

If you are interested in wind power as a source of renewable energy for your home or business, be sure to check out the rest of our wind power articles.

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With her Master of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering (MSREE) from Oregon Tech, Steph is supremely well qualified to write on all aspects of renewable energy. She has already achieved a zero carbon footprint and her goal is to help as many other people as possible do the same. Her other hobbies include music, yoga, swimming and horror movies.
Stephanie Cole
With her Master of Science in Renewable Energy Engineering (MSREE) from Oregon Tech, Steph is supremely well qualified to write on all aspects of renewable energy. She has already achieved a zero carbon footprint and her goal is to help as many other people as possible do the same. Her other hobbies include music, yoga, swimming and horror movies.

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