Vortex launches online global wind assessment service

After several months of testing, Vortex has officially launched its online global wind assessment service, which offers non-linear modelling down to 100m-resolution. Vortex’s dynamic on-demand service is the first of its kind in the wind industry.

In 2007, Vortex put together a team of wind industry professionals, atmospheric physicists and computer experts to develop a ground-breaking model for assessing wind resources. Over the last three years, the team has worked tirelessly in collaboration with leading sector players to develop a new wind assessment service that stands out from others on the market.

“We are very proud of what we have achieved at Vortex and truly believe we can offer a new level of service that will help the wind industry in its everyday challenges,” says Vortex’s CEO, Pep Moreno.

Vortex’s wind assessment service is based on WRF, a non-linear atmospheric model developed by several research centres with the support of an active community of over 10,000 users. It is not necessary to use any local wind measurements for calibration in Vortex’s application, with measurements only being used for validation purposes. To guarantee the quality of its model, Vortex received advice from a team of researchers at the Physics Department at the University of Girona in Spain, and has welcomed feedback from a number of users invited to test its model including ACCIONA, GAMESA, FERSA, RWE and ALSTOM Wind Engineering

Unrivalled in the industry

“Thanks to our own professional background and through a process of dialogue with the industry, Vortex has developed a very professionally focused wind assessment service, which is reasonably accurate and very competitively priced,” explains the company’s Commercial Director, German Delgado.

By using Vortex’s web-based service, wind farm developers can complement wind measurement towers at potential sites to assess wind speeds (including extremes), reducing wind farm development costs and lead times.

“You don't need to buy sophisticated hardware, be a modelling expert, or go through a slow and expensive consultancy process to obtain data from Vortex,” Moreno explains. “We believe that making the whole process web-based means it is faster and more efficient. It allows for much more powerful results than conventional software, while being much quicker (and much more affordable) than a typical consultancy process. You run our technology remotely and get your results in a matter of hours.”

Vortex achieves 100m-resolution

“Within the wind resource analysis field, mesoscale models are increasingly necessary tools. In this scenario Vortex is a very interesting option… very practical and flexible in its use,” says ALSTOM Wind Engineering, one company invited to test Vortex’s products.

Checkable and reasonable accuracy is another selling point of the Vortex model. While Vortex does not aim to substitute real meteorological mast measurements (which will always be necessary at some stage), Moreno stresses that his company can help users when actual measurements are not yet available. “Wind patterns in the real world are highly complex and often beyond the simulation capabilities of current computer models. However, Vortex’s results are accurate enough to be considered useful by our clients”.

Vortex has cross-checked its data against real wind industry data for over 50 sites around the globe provided by clients and trial-users, and has found that its model currently achieves a mean absolute error (MAE) of 0.37m/s (5.6%) for mean wind speed, and 2.65m/s (7.4%) for extremes. These values are not static: Vortex invites any registered users to check the reliability of its simulations by comparing them against their own measurements. Such comparisons are fully confidential, since they are performed locally on users’ personal computers. Wind farm development is a long and challenging task. At each stage of the process, decisions must be taken using the best available information and Vortex aims to provide some of this information, packaged in a useful, accessible and cost-effective format.

Suite of products for each stage of wind farm development

At the very early stages of development, a basic idea of the wind resource may be enough to orientate prospecting. The company therefore offers free of charge Vortex GLOBE, Vortex’s user interface, which provides 9km-resolution onshore and 27km-resolution offshore global wind maps, which can be used to make more accurate decisions about siting.

Afterwards, 3 and 1km-resolution Vortex MAPs can be easily selected through a couple of clicks from a user’s web browser and, after only a few hours, are ready for download in easily usable Google Earth KML or ESRI grid formats.

Vortex MAST, meanwhile, has been designed to help developers once potential sites have been identified. It provides one-year estimated wind statistics at any location worldwide, at a small fraction of the price and time of installing a real meteorological mast. Statistics can be generated for both on and off-shore sites at any height between 50 and 150m, and data are delivered in the form of a comprehensive report or in exportable industry-standard TAB format, directly usable in WAsP, Windsim, etc.

Lastly, while actual measurements are being collected, Vortex FARM has been developed to facilitate the wind farm design process by providing a long-term (27 years), high resolution (100m on land, 500m over water) wind field grid. Probably the most complete modelling product on the market, Vortex FARM provides key long-term statistics at any point within the area of a planned wind farm, plus high-resolution mean, extreme (Vref) and turbulence maps.

Vortex FARM enables clients to determine the class of their wind farm in accordance with IEC standards and also estimate vertical shear and inflow angle at any point within the area of the wind farm. Climate profiles of the meteorological variables relevant for wind farm installation and operation are also available.

“Vortex’s services are very closely aligned with all the needs of a wind resource assessment department. We are convinced that their tools will be very useful for us,” says Sonia España from the Wind Resource Department of Spanish renewables developer, FERSA.

Delivered in just 24 hours

The suite of products available through the Vortex GLOBE Interface (which can be accessed for free) is deliverable within 24-96 hours straight to a client’s computer.

“The Vortex online wind resource assessment tool has been designed by professionals for professionals,” highlights Moreno. “We are confident it will be useful for the industry.”

Vortex’s products and services will be on display in the near future at the European Wind Energy Conference & Exhibition – EWEC 2010 (Warsaw), the 2010 Windpower Conference and Exhibition (Dallas), and China Wind Power 2010 (Beijing).

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