An important source of renewable energy, wind is generated by a combination of factors, such as the earth’s rotation, intensity of the sun, the oceans, polar caps, temperature gradients between land and sea, and the earth’s topography.
These winds can be converted into kinetic energy when they trigger the rotational movement of a wind turbine. This energy is primarily used for producing electricity, although it’s also used to pump bore water, particularly in rural areas. The effectiveness of wind to energy conversion is measured at any give site and is typically measured by energy density.
Widely employed in Europe and the U.S, wind energy is one of the fastest growing renewable energy resources and is steadily gaining traction in China, India and Australia. An Australian wind map is an atlas of wind strength that is vital when assesing local wind resources.
Wind Map Australia
Pictured above is a simple wind map that illustrates general background winds in Australia. Local effects, time of day and seasonal weather patterns have an influence on wind direction and strength.
On the first of October 2008, the Australian Government released the Australian Wind Atlas. Wind atlases (which also exist for NSW and Victoria) contain data on the wind speed and wind direction of a particular region. These gauge the extent to which wind energy can be employed at a particular site.
In New South Wales areas with the highest wind energy potential are typically situated on the upper parts of the Great Dividing Range and along the coast. Generally, the best sites within these areas are situated where elevation, topography and wind orientation are favourable.
Victoria has an average wind speed of 6.5m/s, with higher average wind speeds of 7m/s found along coastal, central and alpine regions.
Pictured above is a diagram explaining the impact geography can have on wind strength and direction.
Apart from wind atlases, wind behaviour in Australia is also gauged by ‘wind roses’, which monitors the wind behaviour over more frequent intervals. Wind roses typically measure winds at the times of 9am and 3pm.
These wind roses, which are located all over Australia, measure factors such as the frequency of calm winds, changes in wind speed and its direction over a certain time period.
If you are assessing a site or have an interest in Wind Resources in your area you can view a copy of CSIRO’s Australia Wind Resources Assessment which contains detailed information and data on wind resources in Australia.