Why is an Israeli device that resembles a computerized spider attracting international attention in the field of alternative energy? As Bob Dylan might put it, “the answer is blowing in the wind.”
The Pentalum SpiDAR system measures gusts of wind before they hit the blades of the wind turbines, not after.
Pentalum Technologies’ SpiDAR system, still in development at the company’s Rehovot headquarters in central Israel, is creating a buzz. That’s because of its potential improvement over existing LIDAR (light detection and ranging) and other remote systems, which wind power plants rely on to monitor wind conditions.
Constantly varying wind speeds and directional patterns present a challenge for wind farms, because these changes have a huge impact on the performance of the turbines that generate energy. That’s why wind farmers invest significant capital in precision wind measurement tools to help them to site their operations and assure optimum production.
Pentalum’s proprietary technology will provide a smaller and less-expensive alternative that is also more accurate than existing methods. It utilizes sophisticated distributed wind sensors that are coordinated and controlled through a central computer. The visual effect of this configuration is what gave rise to the brand name SpiDAR.
“All the data from the different ‘legs’ of the spider” are transmitted to the central ‘headquarters,’ ” says Gil Shamai, Pentalum’s vice president for business development.” It’s light and very easy to deploy by a single person on the ground. You can place several in your terrain and receive measurements up to 200 meters off the ground.” According to Shamai, the noiseless device is designed to provide more reliable and cost-effective results in three distinct applications.