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Graphing software reveals wind power potential

Regions that have a high population -- and hence a high demand for energy – may be suitable for wind energy production, despite having a low average wind speed according to research using data analysis and graphing software.

OriginLab’s software enabled Dr Ray Huffaker, from the University of Florida, and Dr Marco Bittelli, from the University of Bologna, to create three-dimensional views of wind patterns for South Palm Beach, Florida in the USA, showing that enough predictable wind supply existed to correspond with power demand.

The researchers required a unique data-display technique, as their nonlinear dynamic analysis was an untested approach to wind power evaluation and differed from conventional approaches to analysing wind-speed data, which remove patterns before systematically restoring them after the experiment is complete. Origin software afforded Huffaker and Bittelli the versatility needed to display their findings accurately.

The findings could change the way in which wind projects are viewed. Wind has typically been treated as rather a random probability. Without a method to predict wind supply, most US wind farms have been placed in gusty areas that received ample wind, such as the Midwest. However, Huffaker and Bittelli’s analysis may open more regions to wind energy production.

‘Our research showed that wind speeds in the recently proposed Sugarland Wind project—the first utility-scale project proposed in Florida—follow strong temporal patterns that match up well with regular daily and seasonal electricity demand patterns,’ according to Dr Huffaker. ‘This was a huge breakthrough. Origin’s 3D graphing capability was instrumental in demonstrating that the data are systematic.’

The resulting data and graph, produced with the help of Origin software engineers, revealed that the wind patterns were not random, but rather systematic and similar to a satellite’s orbit. The 3D graph can be viewed here.

‘Dr Huffaker contacted OriginLab after exhausting all his flat, two-dimensional graphing options,’ said Snow Li, Technical Support Manager at OriginLab. ‘While the data was impressive on its own merit, it needed three-dimensional animation in order to be graphically represented for full effect. Our technical support engineers wrote an animation script for Dr Huffaker, creating a 3D graph that gives the data a breezy motion reflective of its subject matter.’

In Origin version 9.1, 3D graph animation is used to show a trend in a series of graphs, allowing for real-time analysis and comparison of results. The animated LabTalk script created for Huffaker and Bittelli showed the evolution of patterns in their wind-speed data.

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