The value of wake steering wind farm flow control in US energy markets
Wind farm flow control represents a category of control strategies for achieving wind-plant-level objectives, such as increasing wind plant power production and/or reducing structural loads, by mitigating the impact of wake interactions between wind turbines. Wake steering is a wind farm flow control technology in which specific turbines are misaligned with the wind to deflect their wakes away from downstream turbines, thus increasing overall wind plant power production. In addition to promising results from simulation studies, wake steering has been shown to successfully increase energy production through several recent field trials. However, to better understand the benefits of wind farm flow control strategies such as wake steering, the value of the additional energy to the electrical grid should be evaluated – for example, by considering the price of electricity when the additional energy is produced. In this study, we investigate the potential for wake steering to increase the value of wind plant energy production by combining model predictions of power gains using the FLOw Redirection and Induction in Steady State (FLORIS) engineering wind farm flow control tool with historical electricity price data for 15 existing US wind plants in four different electricity market regions. Specifically, for each wind plant, we use FLORIS to estimate power gains from wake steering for a time series of hourly wind speeds and wind directions spanning the years 2018–2020, obtained from the ERA5 reanalysis dataset. The modeled power gains are then correlated with hourly electricity prices for the nearest transmission node. Through this process we find that wake steering increases annual energy production (AEP) between 0.4 % and 1.7 %, depending on the wind plant, with average increases in potential annual revenue (i.e., annual revenue of production, ARP) 4 % higher than the AEP gains. For most wind plants, ARP gain was found to exceed AEP gain. But the ratio between ARP gain and AEP gain is greater for wind plants in regions with high wind penetration because electricity prices tend to be relatively higher during periods with below-rated wind plant power production, when wake losses occur and wake steering is active; for wind plants in the Southwest Power Pool – the region with the highest wind penetration analyzed (31 %) – the increase in ARP from wake steering is 11 % higher than the AEP gain. Consequently, we expect the value of wake steering, and other types of wind farm flow control, to increase as wind penetration continues to grow.
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An open-access version of this article published in Wind Energy Science can be viewed here.