You can’t see the wind, but just like other intangible things you can visualise it using charts. This post introduces you to a couple of ways of visualising the wind resource for a particular location. It’s an important early step in deciding whether or not a wind turbine is a good idea.
Wind rose charts
Do you have a home weather station and you’d like to interpret the outputs? Are you writing a renewable energy report and want to add a graphic to represent the wind resource? A structural report and you’d like to visualise the wind loading?
Then you might just need a wind rose.
Wind speeds chart
And while you’re about it, why not add in a chart of wind speeds. This is sometimes called a Weibull chart because wind speeds tend to follow a Weibull distribution.
Knowing where the wind comes from and how fast it is can tell you a lot about whether the site is suitable for a wind turbine. The faster the average wind speed the better return you’ll generate. A common rule of thumb is that if the average wind speed is less than 5 meters per second then you won’t get much benefit from a wind turbine.
This post will take you through creating charts like these.
1: Getting your wind data
Obviously the most important part of creating your wind speed graphic is the data. How you get hold of this will vary depending on what you’re using it for. These are a few typical places you might find wind speed data to use:
All over the world weather stations are set up recording every passing gust of wind, floating cloud, drop of rain and ray of sunshine. You can download data from thousands of Weather Underground stations around the world using our Weather Access web form.
Energy modelling weather files
You can often extract the data you need from the weather files used by building simulation engineers. These aren’t as well distributed across the world as weather stations, but they do represent a typical year rather than just a year chosen random so are likely to give a more accurate idea of wind conditions than a weather station. You can find your nearest weather files using the Weather File Finder tool from this site.
Your own weather station
If you have your own personal weather station or anemometer then you will probably have a ready source of data. If not, you can get hold of one, through one of the links at Weather Underground, or through Better Generation who produce the Power Predictor which is specifically designed to assess renewable energy potential.
2: Download and open the wind chart creator
This is an easy step. The download link is here. Just save the file to your computer, unzip the zip file and open it up in Excel.
3: Import the wind data
This step depends on the source of your data.
If it’s from our Weather Access page then you will probably have downloaded it in two six-month chunks. There’s a button on the front page of the wind charts maker to import them for you.
If it’s from an energy simulation weather file then the process may be a bit more involved. We’ll work towards making a simple import button like we have for Weather Access/Weather Underground data but for now you’ll probably have to wrangle the data yourself in Excel and paste it into the Windspeed m/sec column.
If it’s from your own weather station then the simplest route might be to join the Weather Underground network and import it from there, otherwise again it’s a case of formatting the data yourself in Excel and pasting it into the Wind Charts tool.
4: Check your charts
Your charts should now be ready in the Charts tab of the workbook. Just copy and paste them into your document and away you go!
This is a brand new tool so please do give us your feedback, either by email or in the comments here.
For lots more information on wind energy, wind turbines, and calculating the return you can expect in your location, Small Scale Wind Power Generation: A Practical Guide is available now!