GE Research uses supercomputer for wind power study

By Georgia Wilson
GE Research, has been granted access to the US Department of Energy’s supercomputer for groundbreaking wind power study...

In a recent announcement made by GE Research the company has been authorised by the US government access to one of the world’s fastest supercomputers. The access will provide GE Research with the capability to advance offshore wind power.

The research could be a significant part of the wind energy sector which is projected to provide 20% of all US needs in the next 10 years. 

GE engineers - which is led by GE Research Aerodynamics Engineer Jing Li – has been granted access to the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, via the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) competitive Advanced Scientific Computing Research Leadership Computing Challenge (ALCC) program. 

The goal of the research project is to use the supercomputer to utilise simulations to conduct otherwise infeasible research which aims to improve efficiencies in offshore wind energy production.

“The Summit supercomputer will allow our GE team to run computations that would be otherwise impossible,” commented Li. “This research could dramatically accelerate offshore wind power as the future of clean energy and our path to a more sustainable, safe environment.”

As part of the project, GE will work closely with research teams at NREL and ORNL to advance the ExaWind platform, which focuses on the development of computer software to simulate different wind farms and atmospheric flow physics. The simulations will provide crucial insights to better understand wind dynamics and the impact they have on wind farms. 

“Scientists at NREL and ORNL are part of a broader team that have built up a tremendous catalog of new software code and technical expertise with ExaWind, and we believe our project can discover critical new insights that support and validate this larger effort,” added Li.

“ExaWind’s development efforts are building progressively from predictive petascale simulations of a single turbine to a multi-turbine array of turbines in complex terrain. The ExaWind goal is to establish a virtual wind plant test bed that aids and accelerates the design and control of wind farms, informing our ability to predict the response of these farms to a given atmospheric condition. ECP is fortunate to have ExaWind in its portfolio of application projects, and fully supports its goals and aggressive development plans, which will not be easy to achieve. But these sort of stretch scientific goals are what ECP is about,” commented Doug Kothe, Director of DOE's Exascale Computing Project (ECP).

Another key focus for the project will be the study of coastal low level jets, “which produce a distinct wind velocity profile of potential importance to the design and operation of future wind turbines,” commented GE in a company statement.

Utilising the Summit supercomputer system, GE will conduct further studies to run simulations to inform new ways of controlling and operating offshore turbines to best optimise wind production.

“We’re now able to study wind patterns that span hundreds of meters in height across tens of kilometers of territory down to the resolution of airflow over individual turbine blades,” commented Li. “You simply couldn’t gather and run experiments on this volume and complexity of data without a supercomputer. These simulations allow us to characterize and understand poorly understood phenomena like coastal low-level jets in ways previously not possible.” 

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