Alice Springs Future Grid’s Wind Monitoring Study provides baseline information to inform future wind power opportunities. It establishes how wind power can complement solar power in Alice Springs.
What data was collected?
Alice Springs is a Solar City, with wind power not historically considered viable with the technology available at the time.
The study considered whether improvements in efficiency and costs of wind turbines mean that wind power could be added to the renewable energy mix for our town.
The study used mobile SODAR equipment to measure wind speed and wind direction at up to 100m above ground level, at two locations in Alice Springs over the course of a year.
What sites were tested?
• The Future Grid wind monitoring study measured wind speeds at two locations in Alice Springs.
• Wind power was considered to have potential to be a low-cost source of renewable energy.
• Wind power can be generated day and night yet only complements our existing solar resource in certain circumstances.
• The study will help to inform future wind power opportunities. A wind farm is not currently being proposed.
The equipment will be stationed at the Desert Knowledge Precinct — to provide a comparison with the existing wind monitoring data from that site — and near the Owen Springs Power Station. No wind turbines were used for these locations. Site selection for the monitoring equipment considered a range of criteria to ensure the locations were safe, economically sustainable, and environmentally sound. These included land tenure and topography, wind speed, distance to the grid, Indigenous heritage sites, visual impact, impact on wildlife, and public acceptance.
What is SODAR?
The wind monitoring study used SODAR (Sonic Detection And Ranging) equipment which works by emitting an audible chirp every few seconds, and then measures the doppler shift of the returned echo.
The SODAR accurately measures wind speed and direction up to 100m above ground level, making it particularly suitable for assessing the available resource for wind turbine generation. Because the units are trailer mounted and easy to deploy, it is a much more cost-effective than constructing a tower-mounted meteorological station, which is the traditional approach for this kind of assessment.
A financial model, developed with the wind resource data, provides some insight into the viability of wind power in Alice Springs.
The Wind Study is now available on the ARENA Website.