• 11.30.10

“WindScanner” Uses Laser Beams to Measure Wind Conditions

Though it seems like something a Bond villain would dream up, the laser-enabled WindScanners might make the world a better place, by helping wind farms exploit energy more efficiently.

Three new energy research initiatives recently got a collective 1.2 billion Euros from the European Union. Among the beneficiaries is Risø DTU, at the Technical University of Denmark, whose laser-enabled “WindScanner” takes wind power measurement to a whole new level.


Check out the animation below, courtesy of the Risø DTU site.

With three Lidars working together, the WindScanner can generate 3-D maps of wind conditions, helping wind farm operators to exploit wind energy with the highest efficiency. What previously would have taken a series of meteorological masts can now be determined with a suite of three Lidars, small enough to be packed into a van. So portable is the WindScanner that it doesn’t necessarily need to be part of a permanent installation at a wind farm; it can even be dispatched to help troubleshoot wind turbines that are underperforming, as a sort of diagnostic tool determining whether the turbine or the weather is ultimately at fault.

[Images: Flickr user Kevin Dooley; Risø DTU]

About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal.