Business Maps The Way Wind Blows:
Truewind is an "Albany-based partnership that makes wind maps for companies seeking the best spots to erect electricity-generating wind turbines. Such maps can be crucial for determining how much electricity — and how many dollars — turbines will produce. TrueWind hit on the idea of using parallel computing — that is, solving a problem with the simultaneous use of multiple computers — to crunch a crushing load of meteorological data to figure out wind patterns.
TrueWind considers all sorts of historical atmospheric data on a given area, from temperature to moisture levels to more generalized wind measurements. Year-round data is randomly sampled over a 15-year period through a process Bailey likens to polling. Contours of the land are represented by topographical maps. Satellite images provide important details about land cover such as whether a piece of land is covered by trees or crops. "We let the model then say, 'Given these larger conditions, what must be happening on the small scale based on what we know about physics and the topography and the surface characteristics?'" said physicist Michael Brower.
TrueWind's computer model is designed to give a high resolution picture — down to about two-thirds of a mile in their large area MesoMaps and around 330 feet for "micrositing" maps of smaller areas.
The data — much of it culled from such federal agencies as the National Weather Service — is fed into more than 100 parallel computer processors. But even with that sort of firepower, it can take weeks to produce a map. Thresher calls TrueWind the leader among wind mappers in the United States, but noted there are other dominant players in Europe.
TrueWind does about $1.5 million annually in sales, Bailey said. .. Bailey estimates that 80 percent of TrueWind's business is in mapping and the rest in the related field of wind forecasting. TrueWind is starting a contract with the California Independent System Operator for hourly forecasts of the wind projects in that state. TrueWind has mapped out 30 states so far, as well as Brazil, Sri Lanka and other countries under a contract with the United Nations. "We want to map the world in the next two to three years," Bailey said. " Example: Utah has potential to generate wind power to meet state's electricity needs 10:06:39 AM