Wind Plant Performance Prediction Benchmark Phase 1 Technical Report

M. Fields, Mike Optis, Jordan Perr-Sauer, Austin Todd, Joseph Lee, John Meissner, Eric Simley, Nicola Bodini, Lindy Williams, Shuangwen Sheng, Rob Hammond

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Financial risk resulting from the uncertainty associated with developing, owning, and operating wind power plants remains a barrier to reducing the levelized cost of energy (LCOE). On average, modern wind power plants in the U.S. underperform their expected annual energy output by 3.5-4.5% , with many underperforming by over 10%. To compensate for this uncertainty, investors require a larger return on investment (ROI) and apply "knock-down" factors that mask much of the underlying sources of uncertainty. Wind energy projects thus have reduced access to low-cost capital. Furthermore, operating wind plants often take a simple approach to estimating operations & maintenance (O&M) costs (e.g. straight-line estimates based on similar plants), which can eat into profits. To overcome these issues, the wind industry must improve the models they use for estimating wind plant performance and operations. An industry consortium (IC) requested that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) lead a Department of Energy (DOE) working group to benchmark the accuracy of wind power plant energy predictions against real operational data. The IC was also motivated by DOE and NREL's potential to characterize systematic energy underperformance, identify sources of uncertainty, and explore root causes. The Wind Plant Performance Prediction (WP3) project was created out of this request, and this report represents the successful completion of Phase 1 of the WP3 project. During the project, wind plant owners provided both pre-construction and operational data to NREL. The pre-construction data was provided to wind resource assessment (WRA) consultants so they could conduct energy yield assessments (EYA). NREL took all of the completed EYAs, along with the operational data, and conducted an operational assessment to benchmark the EYA results against actual operational data. Given the large amounts of sensitive data required for this effort, as well as historical opposition to sharing data within industry, successful completion of Phase 1 represents an unprecedented milestone for industry data sharing. To improve the accuracy and confidence of pre-construction EYAs, wind plant owners and investors need better, more certain, energy yield predictions. The WP3 Benchmark Project is an industry-driven response to this reality. For the first time, industry has taken the important step of working together at scale, sharing valuable operational data with DOE and NREL in order to investigate the sources of bias and uncertainty in these energy estimates. This IC provides wind plant preconstruction and operational data to NREL in an organized and documented fashion and provides guidance and feedback as needed. The IC also provides introspection of the design of experiment, key metrics of success, data challenges, analysis best practices, and quality of results.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages55
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-78715


  • AEP
  • energy losses
  • energy uncertainty
  • energy yield assessment
  • OpenOA
  • operational assessment
  • P50 Bias
  • wind energy
  • wind plant performance
  • wind resource assessment
  • WP3


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