How's it blowin' in your 'hood?

Seattle-based 3Tier has launched a web site that lets you determine how suitable your area (in the U.S. only, so far) is for wind or solar power. You can enter a street address or latitude and longitude and get a color-coded map showing the energy potential for your location.
From the web site:

“FirstLook is based on the latest scientific techniques, numerical weather prediction (NWP) models and publicly available observations from meteorological towers worldwide. The computer simulations and the FirstLook wind resource data set were developed by 3TIER.”

The color-coded maps are based on long-term wind trends, which probobly aren’t exactly news to companies that already have their wind turbines out there. But it might be useful to give firms an idea of how much more potential there is state-by-state.
Some of you are probably thinking “why didn’t they use this map last week when Texas had that close-call with rolling blackouts?” Well, turns out it wasn’t just a drop in wind speed (even though many news outlets keep missing the second part of the release ERCOT put out about the event). As the American Wind Energy Association notes in its newsletter last week:

“Current wind forecasting techniques can accurately predict situations like Tuesday’s event. AWS Truewind is developing ERCOT’s forecasting system but it has not yet been incorporated into system operations. In Europe, wind forecasts have made it possible for Denmark to obtain more than 20% of its electricity from wind energy without affecting the reliability of the electric grid, and Germany and Spain are approaching comparable levels of wind penetration in some regions while maintaining system reliability.”

Oddly enough, the day of that drop-off in wind, GE issued a study it was working on for ERCOT that said about 15,000 megawatts of wind can be integrated into Texas’ grid if modern forecasting tools are used.

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