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Spatial Variability of Winds and HRRR-NCEP Model Error Statistics at Three Doppler-Lidar Sites in the Wind-Energy Generation Region of the Columbia River Basin


Annually and seasonally averaged wind profiles from three Doppler lidars were obtained from sites in the Columbia River Basin of east-central Oregon and Washington, a major region of wind-energy production, for the WFIP2 experiment. The profile data are used to quantify the spatial variability of wind flows in this area of complex-terrain, to assess the HRRR-NCEP model’s ability to capture spatial and temporal variability of wind profiles, and to evaluate model errors. Annually averaged measured wind-speed differences over the 70 km extent of the lidar measurements reached 1 m s−1 within the wind-turbine rotor layer, and 2 m s−1 for 200-500 m AGL. Stronger wind speeds in the lowest 500 m occurred at sites higher in elevation, farther from the river, and farther west—closer to the Cascade Mountain barrier. Validating against the lidar data, the HRRR model underestimated strong-wind speeds (>12 m s−1), and consequently, their frequency of occurrence, especially at the two lowest-elevation sites, producing annual low biases in rotor-layer-wind speed of 0.5 m s−1. The RMSE between measured and modeled winds at all sites was about 3 m s−1 and did not degrade significantly with forecast lead time. The nature of the model errors was different for different seasons. Moreover, although the three sites were located in the same basin terrain, the nature of the model errors was different at each site. Thus, if only one of the sites had been instrumented, different conclusions would have been drawn as to the major sources of model error, depending on where the measurements were made.

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