This U.S.-European Partnership for International Research and Education (PIRE) will engage graduate and undergraduate students, post-docs, and faculty from ten institutions to address pressing research questions that arise when adding the inherently intermittent wind-energy source to our power systems. The partnership includes U.S. researchers from Johns Hopkins University, Texas Tech University, Smith College, and the University of Puerto Rico. International partners in Europe include research groups in wind energy at the Danish Technical University and Risø Laboratory in Denmark, the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands (ECN), École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, and Comillas Pontifical Universidad in Spain. The team's cooperative research efforts will be tightly integrated with a training program that includes carefully designed international experiences. Overall, the intent is to jointly generate tools to better understand, characterize, and manage the consequences of wind power fluctuations. Results should help define more efficient methods for utilizing wind as a sustainable, cost-effective power source. By focusing on statistical tools to examine predictability, multiple time scales, and spatial and temporal variability of wind fluctuations, the US-European team expects to gain new and timely knowledge about the physical sources of variability and intermittency, such as atmospheric turbulence, and about the effects of various wind-farm parameters such as inter-turbine spacing, orientations, ground roughness, and wind conditions. To accomplish this, computational fluid dynamics tools will be developed and validated with laboratory and field observations. Secondly, results from parametric model runs will be used to develop basic understanding and obtain the necessary statistical characterizations of variability as functions of wind-farm parameters, using tools such as response-surface estimation, statistical multi-scale methods, and co-spectra. Thirdly, these characterizations will be coupled to production costing and planning models of the power grid for validation and further development.
The PIRE research partners expect these models to help determine how wind farm parameters affect ancillary service requirements and how storage and demand response can be used most effectively. For broader impact, the new grid modeling tools that incorporate improved statistical characterizations of wind-farm output variability should help optimize future resource siting and design. Fourth, results are to be integrated with models of power markets and economic impacts. Econometric methods and market data may be used to propose potential, new policy levers and market designs to support practical, cost-effective adoption of renewable, highly intermittent energy sources. Central to the PIRE activities are core education, training and mentoring components. U.S. student participants will benefit from innovative courses in wind energy, computer modeling, power networks, economic management and economics, several taken abroad at partner institutions. Additionally, periodic research-focused site visits to European institutions and installations by U.S. students, faculty, and post-docs will facilitate access and ensure more rapid transfer of relevant technical knowledge to advance current understanding of wind power variability and its management. The U.S. PIRE project will operate under the aegis of Johns Hopkins University's Environment, Energy, Sustainability and Health Institute (E2SHI), which promotes cross-disciplinary research, outreach, and education for critical sustainability issues. Furthermore, the project will leverage close ties between Texas Tech University's National Wind Resource Center, several industries and national laboratories, as well as a number of utilities and agencies in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic, Northeast and Texas. This level of engagement provides a straight forward means for expediting the translation of promising results into practice. The project is funded by NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE) through the PIRE.