Quantifying the Effect of Lidar Turbulence Error on Wind Power Prediction

Jennifer Newman, Andrew Clifton

Research output: NRELPoster


Currently, cup anemometers on meteorological towers are used to measure wind speeds and turbulence intensity to make decisions about wind turbine class and site suitability; however, as modern turbine hub heights increase and wind energy expands to complex and remote sites, it becomes more difficult and costly to install meteorological towers at potential sites. As a result, remote-sensing devices (e.g., lidars) are now commonly used by wind farm managers and researchers to estimate the flow field at heights spanned by a turbine. Although lidars can accurately estimate mean wind speeds and wind directions, there is still a large amount of uncertainty surrounding the measurement of turbulence using these devices. Errors in lidar turbulence estimates are caused by a variety of factors, including instrument noise, volume averaging, and variance contamination, in which the magnitude of these factors is highly dependent on measurement height and atmospheric stability. As turbulence has a large impact on wind power production, errors in turbulence measurements will translate into errors in wind power prediction. The impact of using lidars rather than cup anemometers for wind power prediction must be understood if lidars are to be considered a viable alternative to cup anemometers.In this poster, the sensitivity of power prediction error to typical lidar turbulence measurement errors is assessed. Turbulence estimates from a vertically profiling WINDCUBE v2 lidar are compared to high-resolution sonic anemometer measurements at field sites in Oklahoma and Colorado to determine the degree of lidar turbulence error that can be expected under different atmospheric conditions. These errors are then incorporated into a power prediction model to estimate the sensitivity of power prediction error to turbulence measurement error. Power prediction models, including the standard binning method and a random forest method, were developed using data from the aeroelastic simulator FAST for a 1.5 MW turbine. The impact of lidar turbulence error on the predicted power from these different models is examined to determine the degree of turbulence measurement accuracy needed for accurate power prediction.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NamePresented at the American Meteorological Society (AMS) 96th Annual Meeting, 10-14 January 2016, New Orleans, Louisiana

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5000-65472


  • lidar
  • light detection and ranging
  • meteorological tower
  • NREL
  • power prediction
  • turbulence
  • wind turbine


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