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Delegates are invited to meet and discuss with the poster presenters in this topic directly after the session 'Optimising measurement strategies to maximise project value: Is the industry making false economies at the expense of project value?' taking place on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 at 11:15-12:45. The meet-the-authors will take place in the poster area.

Naïma Vande Walle 3E, Belgium
Co-authors:
Naïma Vande Walle (1) F P
(1) 3E, Brussels, Belgium

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Abstract

AN ALL-IN-ONE SOFTWARE TOOL AS ASSISTANT IN PROJECT SCREENING AND DEFINITION

Introduction

An important part of qualitative wind energy development is the investigation of the potential of specific areas for the development of wind energy. This is often a bottleneck process, as it requires extensive knowledge of local legislation and development constraints which are interpreted by the visualisation of a large number of heterogeneous datasets. Furthermore, after site selection has been completed, a further time consuming iteration is required in order to select the most optimal park layout.




Approach

A European funded project, called Sopcawind was initiated with the aim to optimize the data assimilation and iteration process and thus simplify the pre-development process.
The aim is to develop an all-in-one software tool that allows potential users to combine all pre-development steps into one centralised process. Consequently, the tool will allow to screen large areas for development opportunities and get a clear idea of potential constraints, before the more detailed project design process is started.
The development process of the tool was split into two distinct steps, representing the two main features of the tool: the constraint mapping phase and the park layout optimisation algorithm.
Within the constraint mapping phase, all potential constraints for wind park development were listed, potential data sources were identified and the process to purchase these datasets was initiated. Subsequently this extensive list of heterogeneous datasets were harmonised and merged, resulting in the Sopcawind database.
In parallel, an optimisation algorithm used for the calculation of the most optimal park layout(s), has been coded. This multi-heuristic algorithm is linked to a cost module and production estimation algorithm which both feed into the optimisation process, resulting in the definition of the specific wind park configurations by a capital cost minimisation and energy production maximisation.
In addition, different impact modules evaluating the potential expected impact in relation to noise, shadow flickering and telecommunication services have been coded based on industry standard practice. These features allow the user to get a first view on the potential interactions of the selected park layouts.

Main body of abstract

The Sopcawind was initiated with the aim to optimize the data assimilation and iteration process and thus simplify the pre-development process of a wind energy project.
The aim is to develop an all-in-one software tool that allows potential users to combine all pre-development steps into one centralised process. Consequently, the tool will allow to screen large areas for development opportunities and get a clear idea of potential constraints, before the more detailed project design process is started.

The tool will allow the user to start with a high level screening of the targeted research area and will, through a stepwise process, investigate the potential constraints within this area. The first step in this process will feature a high level constraint map which will help defining candidate areas that will be further evaluated into the subsequent step.

In this next step, ‘Differentiation constraints’ including wind resource maps, energy plans, etc will be used to further screen the targeted area in order to select favourable development areas. In a subsequent manual process, the user will be able to pick one of these areas where he could further screen for project specific constraints and eventually select a ‘project area’.

Once the project area has been defined, the tool allows the user to start an optimisation algorithm that will design an ‘optimal’ park layout by a trade-off process between the two conflicting metrics: the capital cost minimisation and maximisation of the park production yield while respecting user-defined constraints.
As a last step the potential impact on noise, shadow flickering and telecommunication systems will be evaluated for the selected optimal layouts. For layouts that would result in a potential significant impact, the user has the ability to re-run the stepwise project with changed input parameters.
The combination of constraint mapping, an optimisation algorithm and the impact studies in an all-in-one software tool allows the user to get a first insight on the opportunity of investments in certain areas and will allow to fluently progress to the project definition step, eliminating the necessity for intermediate steps and additional software purchase.
As the tool will be accessible through a web-based application, the user is able to access and manage his projects from any location and device, including eg. his own smart-phone.

The Sopcawind project is currently in its final stage and most intermediate milestones have already been finalised. Important attributes are a complete database for the constraint mapping within the two validation areas (Flanders and the Basque Country), the optimisation algorithm including a production and cost module and the noise and shadow flickering impact studies.

In the coming months, an intensive validation process of the complete tool is scheduled. This validation process will be based on real-case scenarios within the boundaries of two validation areas, being the Basque country and Flanders area. The main goal will be to compare the results of the tool with those of a manual screening process. The results of this validation test will inform the further development and will be the basis for the finalisation of the screening tool.



Conclusion

The Sopcawind project is currently in its final stage and most intermediate milestones have already been finalised. Important attributes are a complete database for the constraint mapping within the two validation areas (Flanders and the Basque Country), the optimisation algorithm including a production and cost module and the impact studies.

In the coming months, an intensive validation process of the complete tool is scheduled. This validation process will be based on real-case scenarios within the boundaries of two validation areas ;the Basque country and Flanders area. The main goal will be to compare the results of the tool with those of a manual process. The results of this validation test will inform the further development and will be the basis for the finalisation of the screening tool.

A final prototype of the tool is planned to be released early 2014. This will allow potential users to have a first interaction with the features and functionality of the tool. Potential feedback will be used for further improvement and adaptation of the tool to real user’s needs.

Finally, the Sopcawind project will result in a customised, easily accessible, online software tool that will guide the user through the screening and definition stages of the pre-development process of a wind energy project.
The unique combination of the constraint mapping feature, a park layout optimisation algorithm and several impact studies into an all-in-one software tool makes the Sopcawind tool a state of the art development.
The tool is targeting a wide range of users including project developers, consultancy companies and governments.

The Sopcawind is a project launched as a 7th framework program projects. The 2M€ investment cost gathers 6 European partners each of them adding their own expertise into the final tool.


Learning objectives
The Sopcawind project was set up with the aim to develop an all-in one software tool that has the ability to centralise the different steps within the complete pre-development phase of a wind project.
Two distinct processes were combined, resulting in the Sopcawind database and a park layout optimisation algorithm. The Sopcawind database gathering and harmonising heterogeneous datasets and the optimisation algorithm, striving for the optimal park layout by minimizing capital cost and maximising yield.