Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More Maps! Real-time Wind Speeds

Any long time reader of this blog knows that I am an aficionado of maps. A good place to get started with my cartographic pursuits is at my All Power Is Geography Series.

Wind power is only economical in "really" windy locations. If you are building big turbine wind farms, that means that the wind is constantly blowing above 25-30 mph (What the industry calls Class 5 and above wind speeds). That's windy enough to blow your cat end over end, forever. It's that windy only on the coasts, better yet offshore, on the edges of the great lakes, on top of mountain ranges, and in a central sliver of the plains from the Dakotas through Texas. (In fact, it's so NOT windy in the Southeast that Senators from that region are claiming that the present Senate energy bill with renewable portfolio standards is an income depletion tax to wind-endowed regions elsewhere, sorry Southeast.)

For those wondering about wind power for metro wind applications (residential/commercial/municipal use), we don't need the extreme winds above, but we still need a "good" wind resource. What is a good wind resource? It's a place that the wind blows quite often at 20 mph, and sometimes faster to 30-40 mph (What the wind industry calls Wind Classes 2-4). So, where does the wind blow like that?

Fortunately, we can piggyback from the wind sailing/surfing community to get real-time data.

Check out iwindsurf for some very cool, real time and forecast maps of wind speeds for your region. (Shown is California map, where green color would make for effective distributed wind power. )