Wind power is the product of the kinetic energy conversion of wind into other forms of energy (electrical or mechanical). Today it is mostly converted into electricity via a wind power plant, while in the past the energy of the wind was immediately used on the spot as power for industrial and pre-industrial applications (such as, for example, in windmills).
Its exploitation, which is relatively simple and inexpensive, is implemented through wind turbines that can be divided into two distinct groups according to the type of basic module used defined as wind generator:
o Wind generators with a vertical axis, independent from the direction of the wind;
o Horizontal axis wind generators, in which the rotor is orientated (actively or passively) parallel to the direction of the wind.
The objective of RSE activities dedicated to wind energy is to support the development of this source, which has -to date- nearly 6000 MW of total installed power -of which more than 950 MW in 2010- and more than 8000 GWh of electricity produced, and which is expected to make significant developments.
Ongoing activities at RSE are focused on major issues, namely the assessment of the resource, the impact on the environment and the territory, technological innovations, problems of integration in the electrical system.
The more and more accurate and detailed assessment of the resource, both on-land and off-shore, sees -on one side- refining of the Wind Atlas, with the help of sophisticated meteorological modeling, and -on the other- the use of measuring stations on land and at sea; special mention to the anemometer buoy offshore to be installed shortly in the Strait of Sicily.
The interactive Wind Atlas is accompanied by restrictions provided by the regional directives on the implementation of wind farms ensuring the overlap of these "thematic features" with wind speed or specific feasibility maps, providing an immediate picture of the areas of interest from a point of view of potential installments in the Region. Particular attention is given to the development of tools to support the landscape design of plants and the study of interactions between wind energy and economic development in the territories.
In terms of technological developments, in addition to the analysis of the potential of the off-shore "multi-purpose" platforms, the project focuses on the so-called "mini-wind" through field monitoring of plants of different sizes, in order to provide adequate information on the actual production potential of the machines and the necessary precautions for installation.
The integration of increasing amounts of wind energy in the electricity system along with the search for logics and control devices and flexible and powerful controls, necessarily passes through the improvement of production forecasting systems for the short to medium term. In the project, forecasting systems are developed based on numerical atmosphere models, then subjected to testing at real sites, particularly in areas with complex orography (usually the windiest, but also where forecasting is more difficult).