Wind resource monitoring in the North Pacific

Monday 28 October 2013, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji – Reliable and up-to-date resource data that is publically accessible is critical to private sector investment in renewable energy in Pacific Island countries and territories.

Effective planning for a sustainable energy sector is not possible in the absence of high-quality data.  Data can take a long time to gather so measurement must be initiated well in advance of when it is needed.

The European Union-funded North Pacific ACP Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (North-REP) continues to work on improving the quality of life and reducing dependency on fossil fuels in the outer islands of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Palau and the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI).

As part of the project, seven wind resource monitoring masts have been installed in FSM, Palau and RMI.

In RMI, masts were installed for the Action for the Development of Marshall Islands Renewable Energies (ADMIRE) project in Jaluit and Wotje in 2012. In 2013, three masts were installed in Palau for the North-REP project at Ngardmau, Melekeok and Ngaraard. Two further masts were installed for the North-REP project in the FSM islands of Chuuk and Tonoas in September 2013. The masts are expected to be in place for at least two years.

‘The masts are 34 m tall, tubular and of guyed design. Each mast has three anemometers, one wind vane, pyranometers for measuring solar radiation and temperature sensors. The two RMI masts also have pressure sensors. The statistics gathered from each of these sensors include maximum 3-second, mean, minimum 3-second and standard deviation (to measure wind speed). These are all recorded every 10 minutes,’ said William Thorp, North-REP Energy Specialist for Palau.

‘Two anemometers are mounted at the top of the mast (one redundant) and one is mounted at approximately 20 m, with the boom aligned in the same direction as one of the top anemometers,’ added William Thorp.

Consequently, the wind statistics can be predicted at heights other than the measured heights.

The mast locations were selected for their expected exposure to the best wind resource, for their future potential as wind energy generation sites and for practical reasons, including land ownership, ease of access, etc.

Accurate predictions of a site’s mean wind speed over longer periods of time are only possible after at least one year of monitoring. At this time, only the RMI masts have been in place for a full year. Viable wind energy production using commercial wind turbines generally requires a minimum of about 6 m/s. The wind resource recorded at these masts is particularly encouraging.

The wind data gathered can be used in conjunction with flow-modelling software, digital elevation and land-use maps to predict wind resource maps of the regions in which the masts are situated.

William Thorp, who is responsible for North-REP’s wind resource monitoring activities, has trained staff at the countries’ utility companies (Marshalls Energy Company, Palau Public Utilities Corporation and Chuuk Public Utilities Corporation in FSM) to inspect the equipment, collect and securely store the data, and also provide summary reports on the data.

The North-REP programme aims to improve the overall efficiency of the energy sector through energy efficiency and grid-connected renewable energy in RMI, FSM and Palau, and to increase access to reliable renewable electricity services for remote populations in RMI and FSM.


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