Improving Lidar Turbulence Estimates for Wind Energy: NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

Jennifer Newman, Matthew Churchfield, Petra Klein, Andrew Clifton

Research output: NRELPresentation


Remote sensing devices (e.g., lidars) are quickly becoming a cost-effective and reliable alternative to meteorological towers for wind energy applications. Although lidars can measure mean wind speeds accurately, these devices measure different values of turbulence intensity (TI) than an instrument on a tower. In response to these issues, a lidar TI error reduction model was recently developed for commercially available lidars. The TI error model first applies physics-based corrections to the lidar measurements, then uses machine-learning techniques to further reduce errors in lidar TI estimates. The model was tested at two sites in the Southern Plains where vertically profiling lidars were collocated with meteorological towers. This presentation primarily focuses on the physics-based corrections, which include corrections for instrument noise, volume averaging, and variance contamination. As different factors affect TI under different stability conditions, the combination of physical corrections applied in L-TERRA changes depending on the atmospheric stability during each 10-minute time period. This stability-dependent version of L-TERRA performed well at both sites, reducing TI error and bringing lidar TI estimates closer to estimates from instruments on towers. However, there is still scatter evident in the lidar TI estimates, indicating that there are physics that are not being captured in the current version of L-TERRA. Two options are discussed for modeling the remainder of the TI error physics in L-TERRA: machine learning and lidar simulations. Lidar simulations appear to be a better approach, as they can help improve understanding of atmospheric effects on TI error and do not require a large training data set.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages35
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NamePresented at The Science of Making Torque from Wind (TORQUE 2016), 5-7 October 2016, Munich, Germany

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5000-67364


  • lidar
  • NREL
  • turbulence
  • turbulence intensity
  • wind energy


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