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Site Assessment for Renewable Energy Projects with WINDLogger - Japan

Site Assessment for Renewable Energy Projects with WINDLogger in Japan

Although renewable sources provide carbon-free energy, they have an environmental impact during construction. For a truly green project, a feasibility study is required.

Renewable sources such as solar and wind power are characterized by providing clean energy, while also operating with free inputs unlike other technologies that rely on fossil fuels. However, they can have a negative environmental impact during their construction, especially if a natural habitat is destroyed at the site where the project in question will be built.

One of the first steps before proceeding with a renewable energy project is making sure the investment actually makes sense, by verifying the weather conditions at the prospective site. WINDLogger is a rugged weather monitoring solution which can be used to assess if a site is suitable for wind power, and can also contribute to feasibility studies for solar photovoltaic power:

  • WINDLogger is capable of monitoring wind speed and direction over a specified timeframe, which provides useful data that can then be used to estimate the output of a wind farm.
  • Solar photovoltaic systems also require wind studies, since it is necessary to design the racking structures for the PV modules according to the expected wind load. The WINDLogger is also capable of monitoring site temperature, which is a key factor that influences PV system performance. Another benefit of a wind study at a prospective site for solar power is that it allows both systems to be compared: perhaps a site originally intended for a solar farm is better suited for wind turbines!

Proceeding with project construction without a proper site assessment can result in a very low capacity factor, which greatly reduces the financial performance of the project. Also, a natural environment will have been disrupted unnecessarily. The worst thing that could happen is installing wind turbines where there is almost no wind, or installing a solar array where the weather is frequently cloudy.

Once a site has been determined to be suitable for wind or solar power, the project owner can take measures which minimize its environmental impact.

An emerging concept which is very innovative is solar sharing, which was invented in Japan in 2003 by Akira Nagashima. Basically, solar sharing consists on building a solar farm with a racking structure that is high enough to use the land below it. Also, individual modules must be spread apart far enough to allow sunlight through. With this concept, it is possible to build a solar photovoltaic project without compromising the land below, which can be used for harvesting crops or raising farm animals such as chickens. The concept of solar sharing can be particularly useful in countries where land is limited, making it possible to increase the installed solar PV capacity without reducing the available farmland.

This is a very interesting concept and it is good to see it at very different level, our friend from Japan Nobuo Sakata is using this technique to provide shelter to chickens at the same time then generate solar energy.


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