Catch The Wind is making good on its Vindicator trial projects, including one wind-farm trial with the Nebraska Public Power District. The company said its laser wind sensor increased energy output on one turbine by an average of 12.3 per cent by allowing the blades and direction of the nacelle to be better aligned with oncoming wind and by being able to detect gusts in advance. You can read the full report here. Higher output means more revenues for the wind-farm operator. “We believe the incremental cash flows generated during the first 24 to 36 months are sufficient to payback the initial investment,” said president and CEO Phil Rogers. And that excludes any savings related to reduced maintenance over the life of the turbines.
The company has had some strong announcements recently, including a development partnership with Gamesa and a large trial with Canadian Hydro Developers, the largest wind operator in Canada.
Catch The Wind Inc. is on a roll. It was only last month that it announced a large field trial of its Vindicator wind sensor with Canadian Hydro Developers, Canada’s largest independent wind developer. To follow that up, it is now reporting the formation of a collaborative R&D project with Gamesa, Spain’s biggest wind-turbine manufacturer and one of the top manufacturers in the world. Just to recap, the Vindicator is a sensor that can detect wind speeds and direction up to 1,000 metres away, giving a wind turbine’s control system enough time to adjust blades and nacelle position accordingly. Over time, this improves the efficiency of the turbine and reduces wear on components and blades. Gamesa has agreed to mount the Vindicator on one of its operating 2-megawatt turbines at a yet-to-be-announced wind farm in the United States. Phil Rogers, Catch The Wind’s CEO, called the partnership a “significant breakthrough.”
It’s often said there’s not much more innovation that can take place around wind technology, aside from tinkering at the edges, and that the big manufacturers have no incentive to change a formula works. But this teaming up of Gamesa and Catch The Wind shows that innovation is alive and strong and that even the majors, like Gamesa, are looking for ways to distinguish themselves in the market. Complacency is no longer an option. Others, including WhalePower, ExRo Technologies, Earthtronics, FloDesign, and secretive Lancaster Wind Energy are also raising the bar on what we can expect from wind technology over the coming years.
I first wrote about Catch The Wind back in November and in the 10 months that have passed the company with the “spider sensor for wind turbines” (my wording) has made some solid progress. The company’s sensor, called the Vindicator, can detect wind speeds and direction up to 1,000 metres away, giving a wind turbine’s control system enough time to adjust blades and nacelle position accordingly. Over time, this improves the efficiency of the turbine and reduces wear on components and blades. In March the company announced its first commercial sale and the launch of a small field trail. Today, it announced a relatively large field trial with Canadian Hydro Developers, the largest wind developer in Canada.
As part of the trial, Catch The Wind will install eight test units of its Vindicator on eight Canadian Hydro turbines that are part of a 15-turbine wind farm in Pincher Creek, Alberta. The plan is to do a side-by-side comparison of the turbines with the sensor with the turbines without the sensor. Canadian Hydro is willing to do this because it’s an older wind farm and the warranties on the Nordex N60 1.3 megawatt turbines have expired. Continue reading Catch The Wind partners up with Canadian Hydro Developers on wind-sensor tests
Catch The Wind Ltd. has sold its first Vindicator laser wind sensor to AXYS Technologies, which wants to incorporate the sensor into an offshore buoy to measure wind speed and direction on the open water. AXYS has also entered an agreement with Catch The Wind that will see it integrate the sensor into fixed and floating offshore platforms, both fresh and salt water applications. AXYS, which through its license would be worldwide distributor of the product, plans to call it the Wind Sentinel — “the marine industry’s first buoy mounted with a laser wind sensor.”
In a nutshull, the company’s Vindicator sensor is a lightweight, rugged device that’s designed to be installed atop a turbine nacelle, or in the case of AXYS atop an offshore buoy. The sensor is capable of accurately measuring wind speed and direction up to 1,000 metres in front of a wind turbine, making it possible to reposition the turbine and adjust blade pitch before the wind hits. This is important because it can reduce stress on the turbines, lower maintenance costs and lengthen the life of the turbines. Being able to position the turbines in advance of the wind also improves generation efficiency.
Catch The Wind also recently announced it will be part of a field test program in Nebraska. The Nebraska Public Power District will test the sensor at a wind energy facility that has 36 large wind turbines in operation. Click here for a previous post on Catch The Wind and a link to an article written in Technology Review.
My Clean Break column today takes a look at a few startups that are trying to make wind farms more reliable and productive. Most of the companies I’ve mentioned in the past — Whalepower (blade design that mimics humpback whale flippers); Premium Power (utility-scale zinc-bromide battery storage cheap enough to couple with wind turbines/farms); and Catch The Wind (LIDAR adapted for integration into wind turbines). In the column I also discuss Vancouver-based ExRo Technologies, which has developed a new kind of generator with a built-in electronic transmission rather than an external mechanical transmission. This is a potentially game-changing innovation. Continue reading Why the future of wind power looks better and better