Advanced Wind Farm Simulations Key to Energy Strategy

By Tiffany Trader

May 14, 2014

With energy consumption on the rise around the world, interest in renewable energy sources has taken off. Wind power is a major component of the US energy strategy – it’s known for being affordable, efficient and abundant, as well as being pollution-free. Over the last decade, wind turbine farms have become a common feature, dotting landscapes across the nation, and today such massive operations comprise 4 percent of the total electricity generated in the US.

While wind power has many positive attributes, it’s main downside is its sporadic nature. In fact, actual power production is correlated with a range of atmospheric variables, such as wind speed and turbulence, as well as spatial and temporal scales.

Getting the most energy from these mechanical giants is thus a complex endeavor, but research teams are working hard to reduce the uncertainty that affects wind power forecasts. One of the main sites dedicated to optimizing wind power in the US is Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The lab has about a dozen atmospheric scientists, mechanical and computational engineers, and statisticians using fieldwork, advanced simulation, and statistical analysis to boost wind power production. High-performance computing is integral to the effort.

Jeff Roberts, Program Leader for Renewable Energy and Energy Systems, recently published a letter describing the lab’s role in developing this valuable resource.

“We must reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels while ensuring plentiful clean energy with renewable sources,” Roberts writes. “The wind, however, is an intermittent resource that is challenging to predict, sometimes varying significantly from minute to minute. What’s more, complex atmospheric factors, such as turbulence, and topographical features, such as hills, modify the wind speed and direction and hence the power that can be extracted by wind turbines. Turbulence also plays an important role in the reliability and life span of turbine components.”

These simulations can be extraordinarily complicated, says Roberts. The complexity is owed to length scales that can an span eight orders of magnitude – from millimeters in the rotor-blade boundary layer to 100 kilometers for large atmospheric weather patterns.

“Simulating wind change and its effects on turbines is challenging because of the complex forces driving wind,” explains Livermore mechanical engineer Wayne Miller, associate program leader for wind and solar power. “We’re essentially simulating a fluid flow in an environment where factors such as aerosols, clouds, humidity, surface–atmosphere energy exchange, and terrain influence to varying degrees both the complexity of the flow and how much power can be extracted by a spinning turbine.”

The computational challenges are numerous, especially when simulating farms of more than 100 turbines. Terrain variations can significantly alter output from one turbine to the next and there are wakes coming from the spinning turbine blades that diminish power from turbines downstream. To negotiate these complexities, scientists are expanding the applicability of the Weather Research Forecasting (WRF) modeling system to be suitable for wind farm scale. Developed primarily for larger-scale weather applications, WRF is maintained by more than 10,000 users and contributors worldwide.

The model was modified for use at smaller scales and to satisfy the multiscale requirements of wind power forecasting. For example, a job may start out with a simulation of the western US to capture the dominant weather patterns. Then a combination of smaller grid spacing and models developed at Livermore are pulled in to accurately capture the smaller-scale features that affect wind farms.

The project seeks to blend WRF atmospheric simulation with scales of motion that are typically the purview of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) codes. To more expertly capture the complex interplay of variables, Livermore scientists have brought in a number of codes, such as WRF-GAD, immersed boundary method (IBM), as well as CGWind and HPCMP CREATE-AV Helios (aka HELIOS), which are used for even smaller-scale simulations that are outside the range of WRF.

A team of scientists from Livermore and University of Wyoming employed the WRF model and HELIOS to perform the first-ever simulation of a 50-turbine wind farm that takes into account individual spinning turbine blades using turbulent winds. This degree of precision and realism is helping researchers to understand why real wind farms fall short of their theoretical counterparts.

Atmospheric scientist Jeff Mirocha is one of the project leads exploring ways of studying phenomena that are specific to a wind farm environment. “The simulation framework we are developing will provide advanced tools to address these knowledge gaps,” he says, “leading to improved operations, longer component life spans, and ultimately cheaper electricity.”

President Barack Obama’s administration has set a goal for the nation to obtain 20 percent of its electricity from wind energy by 2030. The LLNL team thinks that’s a reasonable goal given the current high rate of wind turbine deployment nationwide. From 2008 to 2012, wind power capacity has expanded by 167 percent.

With precision models like the ones LLNL and its parters are developing, wind farm developers and operators have the information they need to select ideal wind farm locations and run the sites more efficiently.

“It’s a big team effort,” says Livermore’s Miller. Other collaborators include National Renewable Energy Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, University of Colorado at Boulder, Sandia and Pacific Northwest national laboratories, University of Wyoming, University of Oklahoma, University of California at Berkeley, U.S. Army, and other wind power industry stakeholders. Funding comes from the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, as well as Livermore’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program, and industrial partnerships.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

New Device Spots Quantum Particle ‘Fingerprint’

April 18, 2018

Majorana particles have been observed by university researchers employing a device consisting of layers of magnetic insulators on a superconducting material. The advance opens the door to controlling the elusive particle Read more…

By George Leopold

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’s introduction of an ARM-based system (XC-50) last November. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Hybrid HPC is Speeding Time to Insight and Revolutionizing Medicine

High performance computing (HPC) is a key driver of success in many verticals today, and health and life science industries are extensively leveraging these capabilities. Read more…

Hennessy & Patterson: A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture

April 17, 2018

On Monday June 4, 2018, 2017 A.M. Turing Award Winners John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson will deliver the Turing Lecture at the 45th International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) in Los Angeles. The Read more…

By Staff

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

FY18 Budget & CORAL-2 – Exascale USA Continues to Move Ahead

April 2, 2018

It was not pretty. However, despite some twists and turns, the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget is complete and ended with some very positi Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Momentum Builds for US Exascale

January 9, 2018

2018 looks to be a great year for the U.S. exascale program. The last several months of 2017 revealed a number of important developments that help put the U.S. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This