Blowing in the Right Direction: Notre Dame Professor Wins Department of Energy Funding as Part of International Consortium on Wind Energy Forecasting

Author: Joanne Fahey

Harinda Joseph Fernando, Wayne and Diana Murdy Endowed Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, has received funding from the Department of Energy (DoE) on wind forecasting improvements.

The three-year, high profile Wind Forecasting Improvement Project 2 (WFIP2) aims to enhance the reliability of wind forecasting around the world, especially in difficult or complex geographical areas, in order to reduce the cost of grid integration, optimize performance through better short-term modeling, and enhance the opportunities for renewable energy.

Wind Turbine

As part of the $2.5 million grant, Fernando will receive $285,000 to design and execute the field study, as well as to complete the statistical analysis of the observational data. Speaking about the award, Fernando said, “Wind resources in areas of complex terrain are abundant, given the ability of topography to accelerate the winds. About 70% of earth surface is covered by complex terrain and it is natural to focus on such areas.” Fernando continued, “This research project will improve our ability to model and predict wind production in more remote or geographically difficult areas, which are becoming the go-to places for wind farm expansion. Due to their remoteness, operators prefer these areas based on wind-resource, engineering, logistical, and environmental considerations.”

Led by the Finnish company Vaisala, the other members of the project team are the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado, Sharply Focused, Lockheed Martin, and Texas Tech University. The efforts of Vaisala’s team will be strengthened through significant collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and DoE national laboratories. Additionally, Bonneville Power Administration will help assess the economic impact of forecasting improvements and Iberdrola Renewables, Southern California Edison, Cowlitz County Public Utility District, Eurus Energy, and Portland General Electric will assist by providing wind farm data and possibly hosting meteorological instruments.

Speaking about Notre Dame’s successful collaboration with leaders in the wind energy sector, Vice President for Research, Robert J. Bernhard, said, “Notre Dame is pleased to participate in this interesting and important project with a great set of partners. We value the opportunity to help make clean, sustainable energy sources practical on an increasing scale. ”

The research will take place in the Columbia River Gorge, which has one of the world’s largest concentrations of wind turbines, as well as extremely complex terrain. Starting in mid-2015, extensive measurement equipment will be deployed throughout the region and the data will then be used to improve and enhance wind energy forecasting models.

Notre Dame researchers are committed to growing and fostering energy related research on campus. From ND Energy to eWIND, Notre Dame’s faculty and students are seeking sustainable and competitive energy solutions for a rapidly changing marketplace. For more information, please contact Joe Fernando,, +1.574.631.9346.