New technologies may push wind energy to new heights


In recent years, wind turbine technology has advanced considerably, with many onshore industrial-scale wind turbines in the U.S. now standing at 100 meters and capable of powering more than 1,000 households.

Although turbines have advanced greatly, the wind assessment technologies used to determine if a site has suitable wind resources and is economically viable have not kept pace. A recent development, however, is boosting wind data quality, while also reducing the environmental impact and cost of wind data collection.

Capital City Renewables recently installed a 100-meter aluminum lattice meteorological tower in Colorado, the second tower of its kind in North America. It is unique in that it is made of aluminum, instead of steel, and mounted on a steel plate, rather than a cement pad. It can also be climbed and easily moved by tilting it down. This tower lets wind developers assess wind resources at various heights, including at the hub and the turbine off the ground, not including the blades.

The tower was specifically designed to meet the needs of the wind energy industry, a relatively new industry that is struggling to assess wind resources at increasing heights. The majority of the hub-height towers currently in use by wind energy developers were designed for the communications industry. Although they are proven reliable, the needs of the two industries are different. This results in wasteful practices that are both expensive and resource intensive.

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