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The Wind Watcher

Fortnightly Magazine - May 2009

independent, private non-profit institute, with a link to the University of Porto, that acts in consortium in projects both in the European Union and in Brazil.

INESC Porto is not specialized in power systems—we also have strong research activity in other areas from telecommunications to optical sensors, and from computer science to manufacturing systems engineering. The cross-area links we are able to establish add strength to our projects related with wind power. For example, we have been called to study problems of interference of wind farms and generators with radar (civil or military), cell phone or television broadcasting processes.

Argonne National Laboratory has had experience developing projects in Portugal and I believe the American researchers had good grounds to evaluate the robustness of teaming up with a Portuguese R&D institution. The international visibility of Portugal in the field of renewable energies is very positive, which may have added to the sense of confidence in establishing a relationship.


Fortnightly: Why is this project important to the United States?

Miranda: We are excited with the project because it means the United States is quickly closing a gap that we felt existed. For a long time, Europe has been the leader in wind generation, but we all shared the view that it was of the utmost importance to the planet that we could have the United States on board of this warship fighting for environmentally responsible energy generation. Wind generation creates many jobs, as we have learned in Europe, and opens the opportunity for the existence of new industries—such as the wind power prediction industry.

Having stable high-quality standards and benchmarking procedures is very important to stimulate a market. For the United States, I believe the project means the recognition that know-how must be internalized and that wind power prediction has enormous economic value. The objective of 20 percent wind set by the United States can only be achieved by strongly improving the forecasting techniques and their quality and robustness, to guarantee system safety and reliability at high penetration percentages.

Wind power: First we tolerate it, then we integrate it. The United States —industry and public opinion—has gone beyond the threshold of tolerance. Integration requires science, skill and good industry. We hope to give a contribution to this goal by sharing our experience with ANL in this project.


Fortnightly: What is it about your work on wind forecasting that makes it cutting edge?

Miranda: At INESC Porto we are seen as experts in the area of computational intelligence and we have applied many concepts of this scientific discipline to wind power. It is perhaps this combination of computational intelligence with power systems that is our strength. We have consistently added the best science from many fields to generate the best models to serve our purposes. In the wind power prediction problem, I can give three examples of innovation out of a few more that could be listed.

We are applying new concepts from a field denoted “data streaming” to build new online self-adaptive prediction models. These can intelligently recognize that the characteristics of