The Wind Watcher

Fortnightly Magazine - May 2009

The search for the ultimate wind forecasting model got a boost at the end of 2008 when DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) began collaborating with a Portuguese research institute, INESC Porto (Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering of Porto) to develop a new platform for making such predictions.

The increasing reliance by the United States on renewable energy, especially variable wind, is giving the power industry a new set of hurdles to overcome.

It makes sense for the DOE to turn to Europe, which meets about 4.2 percent of EU electricity demand via wind. The ANL project is led by Vladimiro Miranda, PhD, a full professor at the University of Porto, Portugal, and also one of the directors of INESC Porto since 2000. He is an IEEE Fellow and author of more than 200 publications.

“Vladimiro Miranda is a wind forecasting expert and we have worked with Portugal for the last seven years and we knew Portugal has up to 12 to 13% of electricity produced from wind, while in the United States it is only one percent,” says Guenter Conzelmann, director of ANL’s Center for Energy, Environmental and Economic Systems Analysis. Other partners in the project include Horizon Wind Energy, one of the largest wind power developers in the United States, which has a connection to Portugal as it was bought by the Portuguese power company, Energias de Portugal, S.A. The Midwest Independent System Operator also supports the project as an adviser.

With the United States headed toward the aggressive goal of 20 percent or more of the country’s electric supply coming from wind in the next 20 years or so, forecasting must be improved and so must be the way the information is used. Because of DOE funding, the information that results from the study will be made available in the public domain. The study is slated to end in September 2010, but Miranda will be presenting a paper at the American Wind Energy Conference (AWEA) Windpower 2009 conference in Chicago on May 5 providing initial findings on current predictive models and possible improvements.


Fortnightly: What does INESC Porto bring to this this research project?

Miranda: We have worked in wind-power integration for more than 15 years at the international level, in Europe, Africa and South America, in projects financed by research agencies, by governments and by the European Union, or in direct research and consulting contracts with companies, utilities, system operators and regulators. We have over a decade of experience producing advanced software solutions that have been integrated in commercial packages for DMS (distribution management systems) used throughout the world by a number of utilities. During this period, we have developed a consistent scientific [approach], translated into theses, journal publications and the organization of conferences that made us known in the research and academic community, namely in the United States. I am proud that we form a respected center of knowledge in power systems and especially in systems with renewables and smart grids. Furthermore, we are an