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Wind Energy Science The interactive open-access journal of the European Academy of Wind Energy
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https://doi.org/10.5194/wes-2020-77
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/wes-2020-77
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 25 May 2020

Submitted as: research article | 25 May 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal WES.

Mountain waves impact wind power generation

Caroline Draxl1, Rochelle P. Worsnop2,5, Geng Xia1, Yelena Pichugina2,5, Duli Chand3, Julie K. Lundquist1,4, Justin Sharp6, Garrett Wedam7,8, James M. Wilczak5, and Larry K. Berg3 Caroline Draxl et al.
  • 1National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO 80401, USA
  • 2Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
  • 3Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA 99352, USA
  • 4Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80302, USA
  • 5National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Earth System Research Laboratory, Boulder, CO 80305, USA
  • 6Sharply Focused, LLC, Portland, OR 97232, USA
  • 7Avangrid Renewables, Portland, OR 97209, USA
  • 8Natural Power, Seattle, 98121, USA

Abstract. Large mountains can modify the weather downstream of the terrain. In particular, when stably stratified air ascends a mountain barrier, buoyancy perturbations develop. These perturbations can trigger mountain waves downstream of the mountains that can reach deep into the atmospheric boundary layer where wind turbines operate. Several such cases of mountain waves occurred during the Second Wind Forecast Improvement Project (WFIP2) in the Columbia Basin in the lee of the Cascade Mountains bounding the states of Washington and Oregon in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Signals from the mountain waves appear in boundary-layer sodar and lidar observations as well as in nacelle wind speeds and power observations from wind plants. Weather Research and Forecasting model simulations also produce mountain waves. Even small oscillations in wind speed caused by mountain waves can induce oscillations between full rated power of a wind farm and half of the power output, depending on the position of the mountain wave's crests and troughs. This paper aims at understanding how mountain waves form in the complex terrain of the Columbia Basin, subsequently affect wind energy production, and impact aspects of operational forecasting, wind power plant layout, and integration of power into the electrical grid.

Caroline Draxl et al.

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Caroline Draxl et al.

Caroline Draxl et al.

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Short summary
Mountain waves can create oscillations in low-level wind speeds and subsequently in the power output of wind plants. We document such oscillations by analyzing sodar and lidar observations, nacelle wind speeds, power observations, and WRF model simulations. This research describes how maintain waves form in the Columbia Basin in the United States, how they affect wind energy production, and their impacts on operational forecasting, wind plant layout, and integration of power into the grid.
Mountain waves can create oscillations in low-level wind speeds and subsequently in the power...
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