Empirical Analysis of Wind Power Potential at Multiple Heights for North Dakota Wind Observation Sites
Wind speed is the most critical factor that determines wind power potential and generation. In this paper, the wind speed data of multiple years from various observation sites in North Dakota, U.S. was analyzed to assess the wind power potential. The study first applied probability density functions (PDFs) to characterize the wind speed data and fit the distributions at various heights for each observation site. The fitted distributions were then used to estimate the wind power potential based on the theoretical cubic power relationship between energy potential and wind speed. Due to the complexity of functions, the numerical integration approach was employed. The following major findings were obtained from this empirical study: (1) Weibull distribution is not always the best function to fit wind speed data, while gamma and lognormal distributions produce better fitting in many occasions; (2) For different height levels at one observation site, the best performing distributions may be different; (3) The estimation accuracies of wind energy potential based on the fitted wind speed distributions range from -4% to 3.8%; (4) The rank of energy potential estimation accuracies is not always consistent with that of goodness-of-fit for wind speed distributions. In addition, a simplified approach that only relies on the hourly mean wind speed to estimate wind power potential is evaluated. Based on the theoretical cubic relationship for wind power estimation, it was found that the simplified approach may provide significantly lower estimates of wind power potential by 42-54%. As such, this approach will become more practical if this amount of difference is to be compensated.
Key words: Wind speed; Distribution; Goodness-of-fit; Wind power potential; North Dakota
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