Articles | Volume 2, issue 1
Research article
10 Feb 2017
Research article |  | 10 Feb 2017

An error reduction algorithm to improve lidar turbulence estimates for wind energy

Jennifer F. Newman and Andrew Clifton

Abstract. Remote-sensing devices such as lidars are currently being investigated as alternatives to cup anemometers on meteorological towers for the measurement of wind speed and direction. Although lidars can measure mean wind speeds at heights spanning an entire turbine rotor disk and can be easily moved from one location to another, they measure different values of turbulence than an instrument on a tower. Current methods for improving lidar turbulence estimates include the use of analytical turbulence models and expensive scanning lidars. While these methods provide accurate results in a research setting, they cannot be easily applied to smaller, vertically profiling lidars in locations where high-resolution sonic anemometer data are not available. Thus, there is clearly a need for a turbulence error reduction model that is simpler and more easily applicable to lidars that are used in the wind energy industry.

In this work, a new turbulence error reduction algorithm for lidars is described. The Lidar Turbulence Error Reduction Algorithm, L-TERRA, can be applied using only data from a stand-alone vertically profiling lidar and requires minimal training with meteorological tower data. The basis of L-TERRA is a series of physics-based corrections that are applied to the lidar data to mitigate errors from instrument noise, volume averaging, and variance contamination. These corrections are applied in conjunction with a trained machine-learning model to improve turbulence estimates from a vertically profiling WINDCUBE v2 lidar. The lessons learned from creating the L-TERRA model for a WINDCUBE v2 lidar can also be applied to other lidar devices.

L-TERRA was tested on data from two sites in the Southern Plains region of the United States. The physics-based corrections in L-TERRA brought regression line slopes much closer to 1 at both sites and significantly reduced the sensitivity of lidar turbulence errors to atmospheric stability. The accuracy of machine-learning methods in L-TERRA was highly dependent on the input variables and training dataset used, suggesting that machine learning may not be the best technique for reducing lidar turbulence intensity (TI) error. Future work will include the use of a lidar simulator to better understand how different factors affect lidar turbulence error and to determine how these errors can be reduced using information from a stand-alone lidar.

Short summary
Remote-sensing devices such as lidars are often used for wind energy studies. Lidars measure mean wind speeds accurately but measure different values of turbulence than an instrument on a tower. In this paper, a model is described that improves lidar turbulence estimates. The model can be applied to commercially available lidars in real time or post-processing. Results indicate that the model performs well under most atmospheric conditions but retains some errors under daytime conditions.
Final-revised paper