A few years back I was stood on top of a proposed wind farm site. It was a warm, sunny day and the grassy hill tops were swaying in a strong breeze. The site had the kind of aesthetic beauty that any Old Master would have been proud of. Of all the dozens of sites I’d visited over the years, this one had it all. From the hilltop you could see for miles, ensuring the site was exposed to winds from every direction. The hills were rolling and just the right amount of rugged, encouraging the wind to race over them. As I looked out along the ridge the prevailing wind perfectly hit one cheek, and I made a mental note about how a highly efficient layout could be crafted. In the distance, just touching the foot of the hill I could see a road and transmission line winding into the distance across the surrounding plains.
Two years later the project had raced past many much older peers to become the country’s first operational wind farm. While competing projects were stuttering through the development process, this one had floated through with relative ease.
The value of a good site is obvious to anyone in the wind industry, and it nagged away at me – why is there such a shortage of great projects when a great project is relatively easy to describe?
I knew that there was nothing within my experience as a wind engineer that couldn’t be distilled into hard code. Whether a ridge is rolling, well exposed and perpendicular to prevailing winds is a simple question to answer technically. I was curious to know why I hadn’t come across people evaluating projects in such as way, and research revealed an answer in two parts.
First up, simply no one had coded up those terrain parameters that had caused my hair to be so ruffled that day on site. It was clear someone simply needed to do it.
The second, more thorny reason, was a question of access to specialists. The majority of growth in the wind industry occurs in emerging markets, but by definition new markets don’t have a wide base of existing experience to lean on. No one was structuring expertise around targeting new and emerging markets.
This presented me with an itch that desperately needed scratching, and so in mid-2016 I formed Wind Pioneers with the aim of bringing smarter engineering to the design and development of wind farm projects.
One thing that was clear to me was that our engineering base should be in Bangalore, where the sun always shines, the dosas flow continuously and the wind engineers are the best in the world. Since 2016 we have gradually grown our team, acquiring talented individuals across a range of specialties from GIS to wind resource engineering to climate research. We have parameterised the “hair-ruffling” metrics into new approaches for prospecting for sites and are continuously working to improve the depth and speed of our analyses.
We are proud to have now worked on the next generation of renewables projects across twenty countries and four continents. We’ve searched more than ten million square kilometers both onshore and offshore for new wind, solar and hybrid projects. We’ve designed layouts for over a hundred prospective projects totalling more than 20GW of potential future capacity.
Yet we are still only at the start of our journey. We have lofty ambitions to “solve” the technical challenges of wind farm development, and that’s no easy feat and there’s an awful lot of work to be done.
For this we need to build a team and our story is now a story of our team. A crack squad of Bangalore’s finest, doing what we can to bring clean, green energy to the world. We’re singularly focused in striving to reach our long-term ambitions. Well, except when we’re not hotly debating where the best mangos in town are to found…
If you have any questions about what we do, about your sites or about becoming part of our story please do not hesitate to be in touch. There’s nothing we enjoy more than discussing the wind!
Founder, Wind Pioneers