Windlab announced the establishment of the ‘WindScape Institute’ at the Regional Renewable Energy Business Forum, held in Canberra today. The Institute’s objectives are twofold;
1. To complete the creation of a high resolution global wind energy database using Windlab’s industry leading wind prospecting technology, WindScape;
2. To provide a centre to train the next generation of wind energy engineers and scientists.
The WindScape Institute will be based at Windlab’s global headquarters in Barton and will be headed up by Windlab co-founder, Dr Nathan Steggel. The Institute will include 7 of Windlab’s existing staff including Windlab’s co-founders Dr Nathan Steggel and Dr Keith Ayotte. The Institute will also employ and train up to 4 local University undergraduate or graduates each year to provide the resources necessary to complete the global wind database and to provide a training arena for the wind energy experts Windlab needs to support its continued global expansion. The word ‘WindScape’ was chosen as Windlab have historically used it to refer to their internal modelling and prospecting processes.
“This is an ambitious and important initiative that demonstrates what local companies can achieve by leveraging the readily available, high calibre technical skills in the ‘Creative Capital’, says Institute Director, Dr Steggel. “The WindScape Institute will ensure that we maintain our global technical leadership in wind energy assessment and engineering. We were the first in the world to develop a combined mesoscale/microscale modelling system for wind energy resource assessment and now we have set a target of being the first to produce a high-resolution statistical database of the planet’s wind regimes. This will enable us to support the continued growth of smart services and export revenue from our Canberra headquarters.”
Dr Ayotte, who will be the Chief Technology Officer at WindScape, emphasised the local resources being deployed to a global project, “In addition to Nathan and myself, the WindScape team consists of five Physics and Engineering graduates, one of whom has a PhD, and all are from the Australian National University. We are delighted the Board has approved this additional investment. We have always found the local Universities to be happy hunting grounds for keen, smart talent and the Institute builds on our Canberra science heritage that stretches back over 15 years to the CSIRO’s Black Mountain laboratories. Our first two graduates under the program, Emma Howard and Joshua Petrass joined us in January and we are currently looking to offer two more positions by mid-year.”
Frustratingly whilst most Australian government’s outside of the ACT look to the past for their future energy policies the International Energy Agency highlights the rapid transformation of energy technology around the world. Their recent report, ‘The Power of Transformation’, had a simple conclusion: Wind and solar energy are being integrated at large scale around the world at little additional long term cost.
“Wind energy already makes up a substantive part of electricity supply in many parts of the world such as Texas, Colorado and Iowa in the United States in addition to Denmark, Ireland and Portugal in Europe. Closer to home the State of South Australia today generates nearly 30% of its electrical demand from wind energy.
The IEA also conclude that for emerging economies in Africa, Asia and Latin America this will be even more straightforward as they will build up their power system with an expectation of large-scale renewables integration rather than transforming an existing system. Windlab is active in many of these growth markets and the WindScape Institute will play a key role in identifying and developing wind energy facilities in these markets,” added Dr Steggel.