NASA Langley Research Center developed a wind event warning technology that provides a practical early warning system (5-10 minutes) for a severe change in the wind vector. Events such as gusts, shear, microbursts, or thunderstorm outflows can be detected in time to prevent damage to wind turbines or help airports prevent damage to aircraft. Further, an alternative power source could be ramped up or down as needed to accommodate the power draw in the electrical grid.

Gust detection of more than 10-minute warning time is shown here from a prototype high-energy LiDAR. A mild gust of 5 m/s speed is embedded in background wind of 2 m/s. A severe wind event would produce an even more pronounced signal. (Image: NASA/Grady Koch)

The Wind Event Warning System (WEWS) is a high-energy Doppler LiDAR sensor that measures approaching changes of wind such as an oncoming variation of wind speed that will change the power output of a wind farm. Different from low-energy, the high-energy Doppler LiDAR has the energy to reach the long distances necessary to provide adequate warning time of a wind event. With the time provided by WEWS, the blades of a wind turbine could be feathered to prevent strong wind from damaging the turbine.

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