The same sophisticated computer process that has been used to engineer the structure of a space satellite antenna and formulate financial trading strategies through multiple scenarios is being utilized by the wind industry to site wind farms and turbines.
Multi-objective adaptive heuristic algorithms are computer instructions that automatically search project criteria and siting issues in an efficient manner to provide wind farm planners a set of near optimal solutions.
An article about how software developed at geoAMPS helps organizations in the wind energy with the difficult, but essential siting decisions has been published in the August/September 2013 edition of the altenergymag.com eMagazine. The article, titled “Solving wind farm siting” is written by Yogesh Khandelwal, Joe Jordan and Dan Liggett. To read the entire article as it appears on the website, click here.
Siting a wind farm and individual turbines within the farm is critical to the project’s success. Siting, however, is more complex than buying or leasing any available property and placing turbines randomly. There is the availability of regular and considerable wind current to consider. Other issues include environmental and wildlife impacts, land ownership, existing infrastructure, proximity to utility lines, population density, regional land use, topography, and the costs of clearing land and developing access roads.
Wind farm developers have found new Web-based software to be useful in navigating these complexities. geoAMPS, a technology company located in the Columbus, OH, area, has developed a software product called altAMPS which provides end-to-end management of alternative energy projects, such as wind.
Also known as genetic algorithms, multi-objective adaptive heuristic algorithms are computer instructions that adapt Charles Darwin’s evolutionary model. The process interchanges design elements in hundreds of thousands of different combinations. Only the best-performing combinations are permitted to survive.
Developers resort to various means to arrive at what they hope will be the best siting decisions.
Some companies still work from pencil, paper and calculator. This process is unlikely to result in optimal siting. As more factors are taken into account – such as wind speed, costs and regulations – the metrics and rules grow exponentially. This traditional approach quickly becomes unsustainable.
Other companies use a semi-manual process. Through computer-assisted design, wind farm developers simulate possible locations through a geographical information system (GIS) interface. They gain instant feedback with each minute change to the spatial orientation of the turbines. This feedback includes values of desired calculated metrics. It red-flags certain locations when any siting rules defined at the outset are violated.
There are, however, countless possible placements of turbines within a proposed wind farm, which can make this approach too time-consuming and inefficient. Even after such a long, arduous process, wind farm developers may not have arrived at the best siting options.
An automated approach takes the guesswork out of siting. Software-generated algorithms automatically search the solution space, quickly and efficiently providing planners with a near optimal solution that can statistically be guaranteed.
Planners define areas of interest and project objectives and rank factors on a weighted scale of importance. By using algorithms, the software performs a directed search and determines several siting solutions, numbering them in the order of best fit.
This automated approach can eliminate nearly all the time spent developing wind farm layouts and transform it into evaluating optimized layout and choosing the one that best suits project needs. If underlying factors change, re-evaluating the options is a simple change requiring minimal re-work.
Yogesh Khandelwal is President and Chief Executive Officer of geoAMPS. Joe Jordan is Product Development Manager with the company. Dan Liggett is Communications and Public Relations Manager.
geoAMPS specializes in software solutions to manage land rights and infrastructure assets. For more information about geoAMPS, visit www.geoamps.com or call 614-389-4871.