Learning to Forecast When the Winds Will Blow

One wind energy company with operations in Oklahoma has learned to forecast the wind—-when it will blow and when it might not.

Xcel Energy Inc., based in Minneapolis serves customers in eight Midwestern and Western states. It is considered to be a major supplier of electricity in Colorado but also has operations in Texas.

In Oklahoma, Xcel owns about 210 miles of 345 kilovolt and 115 kV transmission lines and facilities but it serves no retail customers.

As E and E News reports, knowing when the wind will blow and when it won’t, used to be a major challenge to wind-power operators. But after forming a partnership with the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable energy Laboratory, Xcel has learned.

It hired meteorologists and employed radars to predict when the winds would blow and wouldn’t. As a result, the company is giving thought to shutting down some of its coal plants in Colorado. It already has carried out early-retirement of two coal-fired units in Pueblo and is expanding its wind farms in eastern Colorado. The expansion will allow Xcel to possibly derive 55 percent of its power through renewables by 2026 and 40 percent will come from wind. Colorado’s renewable energy stand has a 30 percent goal by 2020.

The company also plans to build 11 new wind farms in seven states.




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