El Salvador’s first wind project reaches successful commercial operation

Source: press release, 14 July 2021

Ventus Wind project El Salvador
Ventus Wind project El Salvador (photo: Tracia Network Corporation)

Tracia Network Corporation has successfully commissioned the Ventus Wind Project, El Salvador’s first wind farm, with the support of ArcVera Renewables’ technically advanced services applied from prospecting through development and financing.

Located in Metapán, El Salvador, the 54-MW Ventus wind farm comprises 15 Vestas V136-3.6 turbines. It will significantly add to El Salvador’s capacity for renewable energy generation and prevent the emission of approximately 200,000 tons of CO2 per year into the atmosphere. In addition, the use of wind energy in El Salvador will help reduce the nation’s dependence on imported fossil fuels, provide the country with greater stability in the price of energy and diversify the national energy power grid.

ArcVera Renewables’ technically supported this important first in-country project through its entire development, including the use of ArcVera’s advanced, mesoscale modelling technique in early project stages to define and optimise wind power output. The project was another first for both ArcVera Renewables and Tracia Network – the firms had also worked together on first-in-country projects in Guatemala and Nicaragua.

“Proof of ArcVera’s ability to help create winning projects is in the spinning turbines. ArcVera deployed its industry-leading high-resolution mesoscale/microscale modelling techniques in the earlier stages of project development. For the Ventus project, energy was estimated at very early project stages without onsite met towers, which was later verified to within 1.5% of wind speed. The modelling results were used to identify the best wind and terrain to allow Tracia Network to win El Salvador’s first-ever wind energy tender,” says Greg Poulos, ArcVera Renewables CEO and Principal Atmospheric Scientist.

ArcVera pioneered the use of very high-resolution (on the turbine-to-turbine spacing scale) microscale/mesoscale modelling that was more commonly used for atmospheric science research and weather forecasting. The firm defines much more accurate hub-height wind flow patterns using supercomputers and other proprietary techniques to render high-resolution, three-dimensional, time-series modelling of the winds and weather where wind turbines perform. The results help make all wind energy development projects more efficient – optimising meteorological measurement locations before deployment and at early project stages accurately informs wind turbine array design and energy estimation. The modelling results can also be applied through financing and later operational performance assessments.

“We made a good decision by taking advantage of ArcVera’s sophisticated mesoscale modelling and micrositing instead of relying on output from standard computational fluid dynamics modelling,” says Paul Wagner, Project Manager, Development team, Ventus, “The results of the ArcVera team enabled us to identify a better location, played a crucial role and input to win an auction, secure another 150 basis points of capacity factor for the Ventus project, and on a general note we felt the safety of solid calculations and projections that enabled us to execute different development steps in this pioneering project.”

“At critical development stages where decisions need to be made, the results trumped the CFD results provided by the wind turbine supplier,” explained Poulos, “ArcVera then fine-tuned those results with actual site visits where it finalised the precise location of turbine positions and delivery of the project’s finance-ready energy report. ArcVera technically supported the project through its financing, construction through two hurricanes, the COVID pandemic to COD. The project is performing within 3% of P50, and even with the usual start-up issues.”

ArcVera Renewables supported the project with its suite of project development technical services. To support the project’s development, ensure maximum competitiveness and financing, ArcVera provided prospecting analysis and advisement to support the project’s bid into El Salvador’s energy auction, high-resolution mesoscale/microscale modelling, and energy assessment array energy production optimisation and field micrositing meteorological tower recommendations and inspection, varied owner’s engineer services including turbine manufacturer questions, power performance testing advisory services and a bankable wind energy resource assessment report.