By Kari Williamson

Triton along with several remote sensing technologies has been used by the Turbine Wake and Inflow Characterization Study (TWICS) to create a detailed, 3D model of the turbulence caused when wind passes over rotating wind turbine blades.

Wind turbine inflow and wake observations will be integrated into a wind energy forecasting model as the understanding of how gusts and rapid changes in wind direction affect turbine operations could help turbine manufacturers to improve design standards and increase efficiency – which again could reduce the cost of energy.

The study

The study is aimed at capturing turbulence and other wake effects in a broad wedge of air up to 7 km (4.3 miles) long and 1 km (3280 ft) high in front of and behind a multi-MW wind turbine.

Triton, along with tower-mounted sensors and other remote sensing systems, profiles the winds in front of and behind a 130 m high wind turbine located at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) National Wind Technology centre near Boulder, Colorado, USA.

NREL, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have teamed up to conduct the study.

“The NREL site is prone to complicated wind patterns, so we needed several remote sensing instruments. The site is flat, but it’s located just five kilometres from El Dorado Canyon on Colorado’s Front Range and the canyon funnels air into the site,” said Julie Lundquist, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado.

“The Triton is a good instrument for this study. It will provide us with anchor points in the study by profiling selected slices of a larger wedge of the atmosphere over a long period of time.”


Triton is a remote sensing system using sound detection and ranging (sodar) technology to measure wind speeds at the turbine rotor's hub height and beyond.