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Wind Energ. 2005; 8:403419

Published online 7 March 2005 in Wiley Interscience ( DOI: 10.1002/we.150

Research Offshore Wind Resource Estimation

Article from Satellite SAR Wind Field Maps
C. B. Hasager*, M. Nielsen, P. Astrup, R. Barthelmie, E. Dellwik, N. O. Jensen, B. H. Jrgensen,
S. C. Pryor and O. Rathmann, Ris National Laboratory, Wind Energy Dept, Frederiksborgvej 399,
Postboks 49, DK-4000 Roskilde, Denmark

Also: Atmospheric Science Program, Geography, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
B. R. Furevik, Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre, Edv. Griegsvei 3A, N-5059 Bergen,

Key words: A wind resource estimation study based on a series of 62 satellite wind field maps is pre-
offshore wind, sented. The maps were retrieved from imaging synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data. The
wind resource,
wind field maps were used as input to the software RWT, which calculates the offshore wind
WAsP, wind climate, resource based on spatial averaging (footprint modelling) of the wind statistic in each
coastal winds satellite image. The calculated statistics can then be input to the program WAsP and used
in lieu of in-situ observations by meteorological instruments. A regional wind climate map
based on satellite SAR images delineates significant spatial wind speed variations. The site
of investigation was Horns Rev in the North Sea, where a meteorological time series is used
for comparison.The advantages and limitations of these new techniques, which seem par-
ticularly useful for mapping of the regional wind climate, are discussed. Copyright 2005
John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Estimation of wind resources is important for planning wind farms. However, often a representative long-term
site meteorological time series is not available, particularly at offshore sites. Alternative data sources are
satellite-based wind field maps or data from reanalysis projects. Both data types have the advantage of being
readily available, but their spatial and temporal resolution may limit their use. There are also questions regard-
ing the required accuracy of the data.
Wind mapping based on satellite observations is available from passive microwave, scatterometer, radar
altimeter and imaging synthetic aperture radar (SAR). The spatial resolution of wind maps based on the dif-
ferent measurement principles is given in Table I.
Grid resolutions of model calculations are typically lower than those of satellite-based wind maps. Model
calculations from the National Center for Environmental Protection/National Center for Atmospheric Research
(NCEP/NCAR) reanalysis data covering more than 40 years have a resolution of 25 (~62000 km2)
( Model calculations from the European Centre of
Medium-range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) have a resolution of 05 (~2500 km2) (
The latter were used for a study on wind resources in the Mediterranean Basin.1

* Correspondence to: C. B. Hasager, Ris National Laboratory, Wind Energy Dept, Frederiksborgvej 399, Postboks 49, DK-4000
Roskilde, Denmark.
Contract/grant sponsor: EC; contract/grant number: ERK6-CT1999-00017.
Contract/grant sponsor: Energistyrelsen; contract/grant number: UVE 51171/00-0038.
Contract/grant sponsor: Danish Research Agency; contract/grant number: STVF Sagsnr. 26-02-0312.

Received 24 May 2004

Copyright 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Revised 2 December 2004
Accepted 20 December 2004
404 C. B. Hasager et al.

Table I. Grid resolution of satellite-based wind-mapping methods

Remote sensing method Grid resolution (km2)

Passive microwave 6252500

Scatterometer 1502500
Radar altimeter ~225
Imaging SAR ~02

Table II. Satellite platforms with SAR sensors installed and the recording periods

Platform Recording period

ERS-1 1991 to 1996

ERS-2 1995 to present
Radarsat-1 1995 to present
Envisat 2002 to present
Radarsat-2 Launch 2005

The relatively high spatial resolution on satellite wind field data makes them attractive for offshore wind
mapping. The current study focuses on winds from imaging SAR, as this data source provides the most detailed
wind maps.
The objective of the current study is to estimate the offshore wind resource from a series of satellite wind
field maps. The scientific innovation is in the application of this new data source for performing rapid offshore
resource estimation. The methodology works on archived satellite images, hence there is neither a need to wait
for a 1 year time series to be collected nor a necessity to cover the cost of installation and maintenance of an
instrumented mast. However, it should be noted that wind speed measurements at masts are made with greater
accuracy and at multiple heights.
Ocean wind speed mapping from imaging SAR is a new technology. SAR sensors are mounted on several
satellite platforms listed in Table II. These satellites are in sun-synchronous polar orbits and therefore the SAR
sensors map a local area on the globe at a specific local time as a function of the ascending (northbound) and
descending (southbound) orbiting mode.
The SAR sensors on the satellite platforms listed in Table II are C-band, i.e. using a wavelength around
53 cm. Synthetic aperture radar is an active instrument. It illuminates the target at the surface of the Earth
by emitting C-band microwave radiation and afterwards receives and records the reflected (backscattered) frac-
tion. A satellite SAR scans across track (range) and moves forward in its orbit (azimuth); and, through
timespace relationships between the position of the sensor, the surface target and the time delay between
emission and recording of the C-band radiation, the observations are mapped into a grid format as an image.
Therefore it is called imaging SAR. SAR images are obtained day and night and in all weather conditions. A
SAR is independent of daylight, as it itself carries the illumination source. Additionally, C-band microwave
radiation penetrates clouds and precipitation.
The current study is based on ERS-2 SAR images. These are identical to ERS-1 SAR images. The resolu-
tion of raw ERS SAR image data is 25 m by 25 m grid cells. For mapping winds, grid cells of a few hundred
metres are more practical and the accuracy of the determined wind speed is increased by averaging individ-
ual pixels, as random (speckle) noise is reduced. In the current study a resolution of 400 m by 400 m grid cells
is used. One ERS SAR image covers an area of 100 km by 100 km and is recorded in 15 s. This means that a
SAR-based wind map is a snapshot of the ocean surface wind conditions. Most locations of the Earth are
potentially mapped around three times per month. It is, however, necessary to look into the satellite archive to ensure the actual data availability for any specific site.

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Offshore Wind Resource Estimation 405

The number of SAR images available for any site of interest is a critical factor. In order to estimate the mean
wind speed within 10% of the true value at 90% confidence level, it is necessary to have around 70 (or more)
wind maps that are error free and randomly selected.2,3 Satellite wind maps have some degree of error on wind
speed and wind direction. Furthermore, the observations are a function of satellite overpass times (i.e. not
Estimation of the wind resource implies that not only the mean wind speed is to be known but also the
higher-order moments, for example, expressed by the Weibull distribution through the scale (A) and shape (k)
parameters. To obtain low errors on these parameters, even more samples are needed.2,3 Hence the error on
wind resource estimation based on SAR images is much higher than for classical wind observations owing to
the limited number of samples and errors inherent in SAR wind mapping. However, for feasibility studies,
satellite wind maps may be useful in the early planning phase.
In summary, there are a large and growing number of available satellite data useful for offshore wind speed
mapping. The analysis of ERS SAR data into wind maps is now possible for any potential user by use of newly
developed software. The software consists of a satellite wind-mapping part developed at the Nansen Environ-
mental and Remote Sensing Centre (NERSC) in Norway and a wind statistical tool part developed at Ris
National Laboratory in Denmark.

Wind Mapping from SAR

The imaging SAR sensor emits C-band microwave radiation from the satellite towards the Earth. At the surface
of the Earth the microwaves are modified by the land and sea surface elements. Part of the microwave radia-
tion is backscattered (reflected) towards the SAR sensor and recorded. The effect of various land and sea surface
elements modifies SAR data in distinct ways. Therefore SAR data are useful in a broad variety of mappings,
inclunding sea ice, land cover types, flooded land, oil spills in oceans and ocean surface winds.
Over the ocean the backscattered C-band signal is a function of the instantaneous wind field. Small-scale
surface waves in the capillary/short-gravity-wave spectrum are developed by the instantaneous wind. Some of
these short waves are comparable in size to the wavelength of C-band radiation (53 cm). The backscattered
C-band energy is a function of the surface wave slope spectrum near this wavelength, which in turn is related
to the wind stress forcing of short waves (as well as long-wave Doppler shifting). Wind stress forcing is related
to the overlying wind vector with the use of surface layer similarity theory. The physical relationship between
the instantaneous wind field and the backscattered C-band radiation is found through empirical fitting.
Wind data from numerous ocean buoys and meteorological model data on ocean winds have been used to
establish the geophysical model function CMOD (C-model), which is an algorithm from which wind speed
can be calculated as a function of the recorded signal. The model function CMOD4 developed by Stoffelen
and Anderson4 has an accuracy of wind speed within 2 m s-1 for winds in the range of 224 m s-1.5 It is valid
for open seas at 10 m above sea level. CMOD4 requires the wind direction and viewing geometry to be input
to the algorithm in order to estimate wind speed in SAR images. CMOD4 and similar algorithms6 are suc-
cessfully applied to SAR images to map wind speed (see e.g. References 714). Winds cannot be determined
over land surfaces but only over open water.
Wind direction can be retrieved from most SAR images through identification of linear large-scale features
(SAR streaks) in the images that are aligned parallel to the dominant wind direction.15
Within the EU-funded project WEMSAR (Wind energy mapping using SAR), NERSC developed software14
for the calculation of wind maps from SAR images through CMOD45 and wind direction.15 Ris National
Laboratory developed software for the calculation of wind resources based on satellite wind field maps (see
Analysis section).

Data Set
A series of 62 satellite images from ERS-2 SAR is investigated. These images are a subset from a total of 82
images covering the Horns Rev site in the North Sea within the period from May 1999 to October 2001. During

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406 C. B. Hasager et al.

this period (and beyond), meteorological observations at the Horns Rev site were being collected by Elsam
Engineering A/S for the planning and operation of the offshore wind farm (,17 The
construction of the wind farm started in November 2001. Wind speed mapping in the local area may be dis-
turbed later on owing to construction activities, and therefore images are not included from this period in the
current analysis. The measurement mast is located at UTM zone 32 E428.946, N6.152.003 WGS84 around
14 km west of the coast of Jutland, Denmark.
The Horns Rev site and the location of satellite images are graphed in Figure 1, and details of the
images are listed in Table III. The data set was selected to cover approximately the same number of morning

Figure 1. The Horns Rev wind farm area is indicated with an ellipse around 18 km off the west coast of Denmark. The
location of satellite images is indicated. Each image is 100 km by 100 km. See Table III for further explanation

Table III. List of SAR images. The number refers to specific recording (frame and track), recording time and number of
retrieved images. Some images are avail able within the study period but are not retrieved

Image identity Approximate time Retrieved Not retrieved

Number: (frame, track) (UTC)

1: (1107, 444) 21:30 12 1

2: (2475, 108) 10:30 20 5
3: (2493, 108)
4: (2475, 380) 10:30 13 11
5: (2493, 108)
6: (1107, 172) 21:30 9 1
7: (1107, 401) 21:30 7 2
8: (2775, 151) 10:30 1

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Offshore Wind Resource Estimation 407

and evening passes. There are 28 images from around 21:30 UTC and 34 images from around 10:30
Furthermore, the images were selected to cover the area of interest. In general, the location of the offshore
meteorological mast is sufficiently far offshore to allow footprint averages, i.e. the local area upwind of the
mast measurement point, to be studied for all wind directions. Another problem, however, was that for a few
cases the wind direction was such that the image did not cover the footprint area. This was especially prob-
lematic with easterly winds using image 1 and for westerly winds using image 6 (see Figure 1). The image
8 (listed in Table III but not shown in Figure 1) did not cover the area of interest but was offset ~1 km to the
west. Owing to a limited budget, 20 images were not retrieved (see Table III), and three of these are expected
to have wind speeds less than 2 m s-1 (estimated from the mast observations).
The 10 m wind was not measured at the mast, but observations at 62, 55, 45 and 15 m height above stan-
dard sea level are available. The wind data at the three lower levels should be free of mast flow distortion
errors, since the data from the upstream cups are selected (there are two booms with cup anemometers in oppo-
site directions available at those levels), all stored as 10 min averages.16 From these observations the hourly
wind speed at 10 m is calculated by the logarithmic wind profile method. The meteorological data are cor-
rected for sea level changes due to tidal variation.7 The time series has an error on wind speed of <01 m s-1.

Analysis of the satellite images into a regional wind resource map was done in four steps:
(1) calibration of raw data,
(2) calculation of wind direction,
(3) calculation of wind speed in each image,
(4) calculation of wind statistics.
First, the raw images were calibrated using the software BEST ( Second,
wind directions (hourly mean values centred at the time of the satellite recording) were retrieved from the
meteorological mast.16 Wind directions were, however, also calculated directly from the images using the soft-
ware (Wemsar Tool) from NERSC in order to compare this method. Third, CMOD44 was applied to the images
using the software from NERSC. Finally, the wind statistics were calculated using a new program described
A separate program called RWT (Ris Wemsar Tool) was developed to extract winds for a site of interest
and calculate wind statistics based on many satellite images. The input images processed by the CMOD algo-
rithm represent snapshots of winds spatially averaged with a 400 m by 400 m resolution. This resolution was
chosen to limit random noise yet maintain high detail in the images.
Extrapolation to wind turbine hub height is unnecessary, since this is integrated in the wind power predic-
tion program WASP. We do, however, expect the length scale of the turbulent variations to increase with height,
and therefore RWT estimates the wind at desired height as a weighted sum of several image pixels located
upwind of the reference point. Surface layer theory offers such weighting functions, traditionally called foot-
prints, and three theoretical footprint models were implemented.1820 The latter two models19,20 were forced to
neutral atmospheric stability, since information on stability is generally unavailable for offshore locations con-
current with the satellite images.7
Spatial averaging reduces statistical noise in the wind speed images. An example of noise within a wind
speed map with 400 m by 400 m grid cell size is shown later in Figure 4. Aiming to further reduce the statis-
tical noise, an additional footprint model21 with wider lateral and more uniform averaging than the theoretical
models was implemented.
The CMOD algorithms are inapplicable over land surfaces and sometimes unreliable, e.g. in the case of
near-shore tidal currents producing ripples on the water surface.22 To avoid these errors, the user is encouraged
to visually inspect each satellite image and to provide a boundary surrounding the area of valid data or reject

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408 C. B. Hasager et al.

the image when necessary. The wind direction is extracted from the SAR streak direction at the reference point
or optionally as the average direction within the user-defined area.
Wind data are extracted for all available images, resulting in a series of wind speed and direction applic-
able for prediction of the wind power resource. The data set has a limited number of observations owing to
the limited availability of high-resolution satellite images, the cost of images for commercial use and the need
for manual image processing. The statistical precision of the predicted wind speed distribution is affected by
the limited data set.2,3
In fitting the wind speed distribution, we use data from all directions when estimating the Weibull shape
parameter and assume that this is representative for all directions. Several Weibull fitting methods based on
ratios of statistical moments, ratio of mean and median, linear regression of transformed data, maximum like-
lihood and the WAsP method were implemented. The maximum likelihood method seems particularly useful
in the present context, since it accounts for wind speeds that are deemed out of range of the CMOD algorithm
(cf. validity range 224 m s-1).
On the other hand, moment-fitting methods allow for uncertainty estimates of the predicted statistics (mean,
variance, Weibull parameters, etc.) given a particular sample size.3 These uncertainty estimates are also imple-
mented in the RWT program. Directional distributions of frequency of occurrence and average wind speed
may be estimated by one of three alternative methods: (1) bin counting of observations, (2) local density esti-
mated by the angle between directionally sorted observations followed by bin sampling, (3) Fourier series with
modes estimated by observations.

Case-by-case Comparison with In-situ Data
Wind speeds retrieved from 56 ERS-2 SAR satellite images are compared with the mast observations case by
case using a simple footprint calculation.7 For the other six images the footprint was outside the limits of the
images. The result for 10 m winds is shown in Figure 2. It can be seen that the satellite wind speeds tend to
be lower than the in-situ wind speeds. From linear regression analysis it is found that the bias is -05 m s-1,
the standard error (SE) is 090 m s-1 and the correlation coefficient (R2) is 088.
The result is based on input of wind directions from the meteorological mast. Most often it is not an option
to infer wind direction from an offshore mast. It is more likely that observations are available from a coastal
mast or from meteorological model data. Using those, however, will introduce uncertainty, as the wind direc-
tion typically varies in space and time. Therefore it is attractive to calculate wind direction from the satellite
image itself, using these directions as input to CMOD4.
The result from linear regression analysis between in-situ wind direction and SAR streak direction was found
to have a bias of only 5, SE of 16 and R2 of 097 at Horns Rev.7 This is fairly good, however, the method
for determining the SAR streak direction involves visual inspection.
Using wind direction found from SAR streak directional analysis as input to CMOD4 gave satellite wind
speed data with a bias of -03 m s-1, SE of 13 m s-1 and R2 of 078 at the location of the Horns Rev mast.
Finally, it is important to note that from a physical point of view the footprint models of References
1820 are more correct than the simple footprint,21 but, owing to noise in the SAR wind field maps, the former
models give larger standard error than the latter. Therefore only results from the simple footprint are given

Comparison with LINCOM and KAMM2 Model Results

All satellite wind maps are compared with LINCOM model results, and a selection of wind maps is compared
with KAMM2 model results. The LINearized COMputational (LINCOM) model23,24 is driven by meteorologi-
cal data from the offshore mast, whereas the Karlsruhe Atmospheric Mesoscale Model-2 (KAMM2) model2527
uses NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data as the lateral boundary conditions.

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Offshore Wind Resource Estimation 409

In-situ data

Wind speed (m/s)



Case number

Figure 2. In-situ wind speeds from the Horns Rev mast in the North Sea and SAR wind speed values

An example of a satellite wind speed map is shown in Figure 3. The wind is easterly (88) and it is seen
that the wind speed increases offshore. Along the horizontal transect in Figure 3 the variation in wind speed
is compared with the two meteorological models. The result is shown in Figure 4. The two models compare
very well with each other and both predict a much higher wind speed close to the shoreline than the satellite
wind map, but only a slightly higher wind speed further offshore.
Looking at Figure 3, it is possible to see that the increase in wind speed is faster offshore north of the hor-
izontal profile. In general, it is found that such large-scale variations are mapped by the satellite images but
are not very often present in the model results. Hence it is typically possible to draw horizontal transects that
fit better or worse than the one shown in Figure 4.
The comparison in Figure 4 clearly shows that the satellite map contains small-scale wind speed variations.
This phenomenon is found everywhere in all the satellite wind maps under study. It is due to random noise
and it means that a suitable number of grid cells need to be averaged to provide a reliable estimate of the local
wind speed.
The satellite wind speed maps in general are somewhat lower than the LINCOM and KAMM2 model results.
This tendency is similar to the negative bias in satellite wind speed found in the previous subsection. One inter-
esting finding from the comparison study between LINCOM model results and satellite wind maps is that in
a zone within a distance of 1 km from the shoreline the satellite wind speeds appear to be (far) too low in
several wind speed maps.

Satellite-based Wind Resource Statistics

The RWT tool was used to calculate wind statistics based on 56 SAR wind maps. Three cases were censored
(i.e. not obtained from the ESA archive) owing to low wind speeds, whereas no cases were censored owing to
high wind speeds (cf. 224 m s-1 CMOD4 validity range5). The options used in the analysis are footprint aver-
aging following Reference 21 with maximum likelihood fitting to the Weibull curve and local density bin fitting.2,3

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420000 440000 460000

Bl vandsHuk

Wind speed (m/s)


61 20 00 0 4.1
55.2 7.0
7.9 8.1 8.3 8.0
N Rm 9.1
10 .0


420000 440000 460000

Wind speed map from ERS-2 SAR 19-10-1999 at Horns Rev, North Sea, Denmark
Figure 3. Wind speed map from ERS-2 SAR at the Horns Rev site. The wind direction is from 88. The meteorological
mast operated by Elsam Engineering is located at E428.946, N6.152.003 and a 40 km long horizontal transect from the
island of Rm and westward is indicated along the wind direction. The image co-ordinates are UTM zone 32, WGS84.
A latitude and longitude grid is overlaid in part of the image

The wind resource estimates based on SAR wind maps for the mast location and based on data are given
in Table IV. The uncertainty estimates (10% at 90% confidence level) in Table IV only relate to the very low
number of samples, i.e. assuming the SAR wind data to be error-free and randomly selected in time. Both
assumptions are violated. Hence the total uncertainty is larger.
The Weibull fit and wind rose based on SAR wind maps are presented in Figure 5. The uncertainty of the
wind rose is very large owing to the low number of samples.

Spatial Wind Statistics

Wind statistics are calculated for points in a grid with 01 spacing (cf. grid spacing ~8 km eastwest and
~11 km northsouth) for a 66 km by 52 km area at Horns Rev. Part of the grid is shown in Figure 3. The
number of available SAR wind maps per grid point is indicated in Figure 6(a). For the central part, more than
50 wind maps are available. The maximum number of wind maps is 57 and the lowest is 17.
The resulting mean SAR wind speed is plotted in Figure 6(b). There is a strong spatial gradient, with higher
winds far offshore. The maximum of 76 m s-1 is found in the southwest. The mean SAR wind speed decreases
towards the east to 46 m s-1 at 81E, 556N.

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Offshore Wind Resource Estimation 411

19 October 1999

Wind speed (m/s)


0 10 20 30 40
Distance from coast (km)
Figure 4. Horizontal transect of wind speed from the coast of the island of Rm and 40 km westward measured by
satellite SAR and from LINCOM and KAMM2 atmospheric model results. This is an offshore case with wind from 88

Table IV. Wind speed statistics for 10 m above sea level based on satellite wind speed for 56 images for the location of
the Horns Rev mast

Parameter SAR wind data In-situ wind data

Estimate Uncertainty Estimate Uncertainty

Mean (m s-1) 66 036 76 037

Weibull scale A (m s-1) 74 040 85 040
Weibull shape k 26 027 30 031

It is of interest to compare the wind map (Figure 6(b)) with in-situ observations. Hence a wind map (Figure
7(a)) was calculated and presented as SAR wind speed normalized with the hourly in-situ wind speed per case
per grid cell. The normalized wind was found to be smaller than unity, with a minimum of 068 near the coast
and increasing to a maximum of 099 in the northwest. The standard deviation of the normalized wind varied
between 014 and 040 (Figure 7(b)).
In order to investigate the influence of wind direction, the series of satellite wind maps is divided into two
subgroups covering onshore and offshore flow. Onshore winds are defined as those in the bin [193; 258],
covering 20 cases, and offshore winds as those in the bin [88; 130], covering 16 cases (cf. Figure 5). Nor-
malized wind maps are presented for onshore and offshore conditions in Figures 8(a) and 8(b) respectively.
For onshore conditions the normalized wind is near unity (within 01) for most of the area. The normal-
ized wind exceeds unity in the western and southeastern areas (Figure 8(a)). In contrast, for offshore condi-
tions the normalized wind is far below unity, with a minimum of 049 in the northeast close to the coastline
(Figure 8(b)) and increasing westward. The maximum of 088 is found in the northwest. Maps of standard
deviations (not shown) have the lowest values near the mast for both onshore and offshore cases. For onshore

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Figure 5. Estimated Weibull distribution and the wind rose at 10 m above sea level for the location of the Horns Rev
mast derived from satellite wind maps. The dots indicate the number of images in each wind sector

flow the map is very similar to Figure 7(b), whereas for offshore flow a low standard deviation is found in the
same areas but also southeast of the mast.

Satellite SAR Wind Field Comparison with In-situ Data
Wind speed retrieval from SAR using the CMOD4 model shows a negative bias of ~05 m s-1 and a standard
error of ~09 m s-1 with input of in-situ wind direction at the Horns Rev site as the overall best result.7 This is
found through the case-by-case comparison between SAR wind fields area-averaged over a footprint area and
high-quality meteorological data. Furthermore, it is found that using SAR streak direction instead of in-situ
wind direction gives a smaller bias but a larger standard error. SAR streaks are likely related to surface con-
vergence of subsurface Langmuir circulations. The Langmuir streaks are usually oriented in the same vector
as the wind direction, though crosswind swell can produce small deviations. For optimal wind resource esti-
mation it is of greater importance to have a small standard error than a small bias, as the latter can be taken
into account.
Typically, SAR streak direction will have to be input to CMOD4, as reliable offshore wind observations are
sparse. Wind directions from sources such as NCAR/NCEP, ECMWF, national weather services or land-based
wind data are likely to be offset in time and space and are probably only useful for the 180 ambiguity removal
necessary in SAR streak directional analysis. Results from SAR streak analysis indicate only the alignment of
the wind vector, not its direction.15
The case-by-case comparison of SAR streak direction and in-situ wind direction shows a high correlation
at Horns Rev.7 The method of determining the wind direction from SAR streaks is somewhat subjective, as
one has to (1) select the overall wind direction with 180 ambiguity, e.g. from meteorological model data, and
(2) discard direction vectors not related to wind. The first issue is straightforward, whereas the second is open
to some subjective judgement.
It is found that the SAR streak directions typically vary within each satellite image. This means that the
spatial variations in wind direction can be explicitly taken into account. This is most likely an improvement
in general (even though the true wind direction at the meteorological mast improved wind speed estimation in
this local area compared with using the SAR streak directions).

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Offshore Wind Resource Estimation 413

(a) Number of SAR samples


Latitude (degrees)
Jutland 55.6 50-60
55.4 10-20

7.5 7.7 7.9 8.1 8.3
Longitude (degrees)

(b) ERS-2 SAR mean wind speed (m/s)


Latitude (degrees)
Jutland 55.6

7.5 7.7 7.875 8 8.2
Longitude (degrees)

Figure 6. Maps covering the Horns Rev site in the North Sea, with the met-mast located at 7875E, 555077N shown
with a white star. The data are valid at the crossing points and the grey scale is found from linear interpolation. (a)
Number of satellite wind maps. (b) Regional mean wind speed map at 10 m above sea level based on satellite wind
maps from SAR

In view of the wind speed results described above, it seems relevant to attempt to improve SAR streak direc-
tional analysis. In the current study, 2D FFT15 is used, but other methods are possible28,29 and an investigation
is in progress to determine optimal methodologies. Implementation of CMOD5, a new version that improves
retrieval of very high wind speeds, is also in progress.

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414 C. B. Hasager et al.

(a) Wind index


Latitude (degrees)
Jutland 55.6

7.5 7.7 7.9 8.1 8.3
Longitude (degrees)

(b) Standard deviation


Latitude (degrees)

Jutland 55.6

7.5 7.7 7.9 8.1 8.3
Longitude (degrees)

Figure 7. (a) Regional normalized wind map at 10 m above sea level determined by normalizing SAR wind speed with
the in-situ mean wind speed per case per grid cell. (b) Standard deviation of the normalized wind

The RWT Tool and SAR Winds Compared with LINCOM and KAMM2 Model Results
A crucial issue for applied use of SAR wind speed in lieu of in-situ data for wind resource estimation is that
of methods to obtain SAR wind speed estimates representative for a point in space. In order to estimate a rep-
resentative wind speed from the SAR image, it is necessary to average over a footprint area upwind of the

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Offshore Wind Resource Estimation 415

(a) Wind index (southwesterly 193-258 degrees, 20 cases)



Latitude (degrees)
Jutland 55.6 0.9-1
55.4 0.5-0.6

7.5 7.7 7.9 8.1 8.3
Longitude (degrees)

(b) Offshore wind index (88-130 degrees, 16 cases)


Latitude (degrees)

Jutland 55.6 0.9-1

55.4 0.5-0.6

7.5 7.7 7.9 8.1 8.3
Longitude (degrees)

Figure 8. Regional normalized wind speed map at 10 m above sea level for (a) onshore and (b) offshore conditions
(same grey scale). The arrows indicate the mean wind directions

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416 C. B. Hasager et al.

point of interest. However, one difficulty is small-scale variations in the SAR wind speed maps. These varia-
tions can introduce uncertainty in the footprint average. The small-scale variation in wind speed is demon-
strated from the comparison study of SAR wind speed data with LINCOM and KAMM2 model results. The
small-scale variation is partly due to speckle noise, an inherent property of SAR observations, and partly due
to oceanic and atmospheric effects. Averaging a sufficient number of grid cells reduces the effect of both types
of noise.7 For practical application the simple footprint method21 seems to be the most robust estimation method.
Within the RWT software it is recommended to select polygons of areas in which the wind retrieval algo-
rithm is valid prior to calculating wind statistics, otherwise the results could falsely include e.g. land surfaces
where winds cannot be retrieved. Also visible structures in the ocean that hinder retrieval of wind speeds should
be excluded. This includes obstacles such as wind turbines, algal blooms, oil spills, very shallow water and
sea currents. In areas such as the Wadden Sea where tidal flats and sea currents are prevalent, it would not be
feasible to extract winds around the islands but only some distance offshore.
Low SAR wind speed values are found very close to the coastline in some cases when comparing SAR wind
speed data and LINCOM and KAMM2 model results. This is believed not to be due to poor geo-location
between SAR wind maps (as the accuracy is better than 400 m) but more likely due to physical phenomena.
It possibly could be linked to internal boundary layer development in which the near-surface wind is decou-
pled from winds at higher levels. Further investigation is beyond the scope of the present study. In conclusion,
it is recommended that satellite wind speed data for wind resource estimation are used only at a distance of
>1 km offshore.

Satellite-based Wind Resource Statistics

It is necessary for the Weibull fitting function with the maximum likelihood estimator to have information on
the number of censored images due to very low and high wind speeds in order to calculate the best fitting para-
meters (even though cases of wind speeds below 2 m s-1 do not add to the potential wind resource and the
turbines typically have to be stopped at very high wind speeds). The statistics in Table IV show that the mean
wind speed from SAR is underestimated. This is significant as seen from the uncertainty estimates.
A limitation is that the low number of SAR images prohibits determination of Weibull A and k parameters.
Therefore a constant k value for all direction bins is used. The negative bias in SAR wind speed maps is
reflected in both the Weibull A and the mean wind speed from SAR (Table IV) and the energy density is too
low. As stated previously, the uncertainty estimates in Table IV do not include errors inherent in SAR wind
field maps and the non-random sampling. The diurnal wind speed variations at Horns Rev are modest2 and
should not seriously affect the present results. However, caution should be used for sites where strong diurnal
variations are expected.
The above images were collected within 25 years in the period between May 1999 and October 2001. A
wind resource estimate for Horns Rev based on the full in-situ time series within the period from May 1999
to November 2002 (35 years, i.e. 183,960 samples) is given for different heights above sea level in Reference
16. The Weibull A and k are extrapolated by the log-wind profile to 10 m level. It is found that Weibull A is
734 m s-1 and Weibull k is 23 at 10 m during these 35 years. These values compare reasonably with the SAR-
based statistics in Table IV, however, the uncertainties in Table IV are rather large owing to the low number
of observations (images).

Regional Wind Climate Map Based on Satellite SAR

The regional wind climate maps based on satellite SAR (Figures 68) show significant spatial gradients in
wind speed within the coastal region at Horns Rev.
The overall reduction in mean wind speed from 76 m s-1 in the southwest to 46 m s-1 in the east (Figure
6(b)) compares very well with an estimate found using the simple geostrophic drag law30 in combination with
a logarithmic wind profile near the surface. This method gives 81 m s-1 (at 10 m height) far offshore and
45 m s-1 far inland, assuming a surface roughness of 2 10-4 and 02 m over sea and land respectively and a

Copyright 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Wind Energ. 2005; 8:403419
Offshore Wind Resource Estimation 417

geostrophic wind of 12 m s-1 (the ratio of the two surface wind speeds is insensitive to the value of the
geostrophic wind).
The map of normalized wind speeds (Figure 7(a)) shows that the SAR mean wind speed values are lower
than the in-situ data at all grid points. However, in the western part the wind index is very close to unity. The
maximum wind index is 099. The negative bias is most pronounced near the coastline, with a wind index
value down to 068.
Standard deviation (SD) of the normalized wind speeds per grid cell is shown in Figure 7(b). This map
reveals that SD is relatively low near the met-mast as expected, but SD is also low west and northeast of the
mast. The number of samples is high only in the central part (Figure 6(a)). Therefore low SD is associated not
only with the number of samples but most likely also with physical phenomena. These could be either atmos-
pheric or oceanic features characteristic at the site of investigation. It is clear from the wind rose (Figure 5)
that southwesterly winds dominate the data, yet southeasterly winds prevail frequently in the data set analysed.
Normalized wind maps for onshore and offshore flow (Figures 8(a) and 8(b)) have only a few images in
each category, 20 and 16 respectively, yet the results are surprisingly consistent. For the onshore cases the nor-
malized wind speed is near unity in most of the domain but above unity in some areas. This finding indicates
that satellite SAR images are well suited for mapping of onshore flow. The wind index is smaller than unity
near the coastline, as may be expected owing to blocking of the wind upstream of the land surface.
For offshore flow the normalized wind speed is significantly lower than unity (Figure 8(b)). The lowest nor-
malized wind speed is found just offshore of the coastline. A general speed-up of winds moving offshore is
expected. It is clear that the spatial gradient for offshore flow (Figure 8(b)) is smaller than for onshore flow
(Figure 8(a)). An explanation of the negative bias in the offshore SAR mean wind speed map may be that
CMOD4 does not adequately map wind speed in those cases. The capillary/short-gravity-wave spectrum is
generally assumed to be generated near-instantaneously at around 05 s-1 for 5 m s-1,31 hence this does not
support the notion that CMOD4 should not work several kilometres offshore. For offshore flow the atmos-
pheric boundary layer experiences a coastal internal boundary layer transition,32 hence the winds near the sea
surface generating the capillary/short gravity waves may be decoupled from the air mass above in which the
met-data are observed. An investigation of this is beyond the scope of the current work.
The CMOD4 function is valid for the open ocean. In near-coastal regions, CMOD4 may suffer from long-
wave Doppler shifting and the presence of non-neutral stratification. Offshore flow (i.e. easterly flow in
our case) obviously introduces larger uncertainty and bias. This is a weakness for coastal zone wind
climate mapping based on SAR, and possible methods for correcting for such effects will be investigated in
the future.

An offshore wind speed map can be produced based on a series of 62 SAR wind speed maps using a simple
footprint-averaging method. At the Horns Rev site there is a strong spatial gradient, with a wind speed of
~8 m s-1 in the west decreasing to ~5 m s-1 near the coast within a distance of 60 km. This gradient compares
well with a theoretical result based on the geostrophic drag law.
Satellite SAR wind data can be used in lieu of a meteorological mast time series in WAsP. The method is to
use the Wemsar Tool from Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Centre for image processing and the
new RWT software available from Ris National Laboratory for calculation of wind resource statistics. Weibull
scale (A) and shape (k) parameters can be estimated but with a relatively high uncertainty. SAR wind estimates
work well for onshore flow, and for offshore flow if one is sufficiently far offshore. This puts a constraint on
the method in the near-coastal region, especially when offshore flow is dominant at the site of investigation.
The methodology may be useful in feasibility studies for offshore or coastal sites where no suitable obser-
vations are available or as a guide to positioning of an offshore meteorological mast for wind resource esti-
mation. This new technique is seen as a supplement to classical wind sampling and modelling efforts, not as
a stand-alone alternative.

Copyright 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Wind Energ. 2005; 8:403419
418 C. B. Hasager et al.

We gratefully acknowledge: funding from the EC for the WEMSAR project (ERK6-CT1999-00017), Ener-
gistyrelsen (UVE 51171/00-0038) and the Danish Research Agency for the SAT-WIND project (STVF Sagsnr.
26-02-0312), the in-situ data from the Horns Rev mast from Elsam Engineering A/S, the tidal data from the
Danish Meteorological Institute/Farvandsvsenet and the satellite images from the ESA AO-153 and ESA EO-
1356 projects, and Dr Yaron Y. Levy for editing the manuscript. Comments by an anonymous referee are also

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