Summit Takes Center Stage in GE Wind Power Study

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Summit Supercomputer at ORNL

Scientists at GE Research have been authorized by the U.S. Department of Energy to access Oak Ridge National Lab’s (ORNL) Summit supercomputer, the world second most powerful system, to study wind power, projected to provide 20 percent of U.S. energy in the next 10 years.

GE engineers – led by GE Research Aerodynamics Engineer Jing Li – have been granted access to Summit through DOE’s ALCC (Advanced Scientific Computing Research Leadership Computing Challenge) program.

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

The GE team plans to work with research teams at the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), Golden, CO, and ORNL, Oak Ridge, TN, to advance the ExaWind platform, an effort by the Exascale Computing Project (ECP) to develop software to simulate different wind farm and atmospheric flow physics.

“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,” Li said, “and we believe our project can discover critical new insights that support and validate this larger effort.”

ECP Director Doug Kothe said, “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.”

The focus of this supercomputing project will be to study coastal low-level jets, which produce a distinct wind velocity profile of potential importance to the design and operation of future wind turbines. Using Summit, the GE team will run simulations to study ways of controlling and operating offshore turbines to best optimize 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,” Li says. “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.”

A video of a supercomputer simulation showing instantaneous wind speed in a cross section involving three wind turbines. These are the types of simulations that GE scientists will create to study low-level coastal jets as part of the ALCC program. Full video is here.