Wind turbine.

Wind turbine.

Wind energy research unit

Our Wind Energy Research Unit has demonstrated Australia’s wind energy potential with pioneering research that has identified wind-farm sites and helps predict their average wind energy yield.

  • 30 December 2010 | Updated 14 October 2011

Identifying wind-energy opportunities for Australia

With global warming a recognised environmental, social and economic concern, the development of science-based alternative forms of energy that are reliable, efficient and profitable is a national priority.

Our Wind Energy Research Unit (WERU) has successfully identified significant areas of high wind-energy potential in Australia, and demonstrated the potential of wind as a renewable energy option for this country.

Expertise

As part of CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, WERU has used CSIRO’s core expertise in atmospheric measurement and modelling to locate potential wind-energy farm sites efficiently and cost-effectively (wind-energy prospecting).

It has also built on Bureau of Meteorology weather forecasts to predict the likely amount of energy each site may produce over a given time period (wind-energy forecasting).

WERU, led by Dr Peter Coppin, has applied boundary layer meteorology to better understand the complex interactions between the land and atmosphere.

In particular, WERU used the science of wind flow over topography - observations, theory and modelling - to develop expertise that is specific to Australian conditions.

The research has been fundamental to the establishment of an Australian wind energy industry.

Research activities

Current and future research is focussing on improving the forecasting of wind energy, especially in severe weather conditions where production can change rapidly.

Research is focussing on improving the forecasting of wind energy.

A major focus through the Energy Transformed National Research Flagship is the development of innovative applications of storage technologies in the wind industry.

CSIRO-developed UltraBattery technology will help ‘smooth-out’ the highly variable output from wind farms, increasing powerline carrying capacity and reducing the need for alternative fast-response backup services.

Outcomes

WERU has:

  • become the recognised national expert group in wind energy resources, providing high-level advice and contractual research outcomes to industry and government
  • assisted in the selection of Australia’s first grid-connected wind farm in 1996, producing high-resolution ‘wind atlases’ for NSW and Victoria highlighting areas that could be developed as wind farms
  • demonstrated the potential for wind energy generation at selected inland locations, taking pressure off high-value coastal sites
  • provided clients with data from its wind-monitoring network of more than 90 towers throughout Australia and New Zealand
  • developed world-class models (Windscape, Raptor and RaptorNL) for predicting wind speed over topography under Australian conditions
  • established the spin-off company Windlab Systems in 2003, providing an excellent platform for CSIRO to deliver research outcomes for the benefit of the Australian industry, government and community
  • generated more than 200 consulting reports and publications for the Australian wind industry, local and overseas conferences and training courses.

Find out more about CSIRO's work with Renewables and smart systems.