Mainstream Chooses ZephIR Lidar from Natural Power


One of the leading developers of renewable energy, Mainstream Renewable Power, has completed the first extensive wind assessment campaign in Latin America using Natural Power’s ZephIR lidar which, based at ground level, provides remote wind measurements from 10-200 meters to aid in the development of new wind farm sites.

The deployment was in the challenging terrain of the Atacama Desert, II Region, a virtually rainless plateau covering a 600 mile strip of land on the Pacific Coast of South America. Temperatures can rise to an extreme of over 40 °C during the day and drop to -10 °C after sunset. It is these thermal effects that are of interest to Mainstream due to the effect on wind shear in the area, provoked through Katabatic winds at night, while the hot desert ground during the day leads to convectional forced vertical wind components and turbulence. Traditional anemometry such as tall masts and cup anemometers, providing wind data up to 80m above ground, were not appropriate as the sole measurements in this case due to their limited height. Mainstream looked at a range of remote sensing technologies before selecting Natural Power’s ZephIR lidar.

“We were very interested in exploring the impact of these thermal effects on wind shear but were unable to use tall met masts to see the effects above hub height,” according to Shane Martin, senior wind analyst at Mainstream. “Natural Power’s team in Valparaiso were able to assist us in providing a ZephIR lidar for the campaign and the system was on site within a matter of days, measuring wind characteristics from ground level through to turbine tip height, and above. The campaign was completed successfully and the ZephIR lidar allowed Mainstream to gather all quantitative data necessary for the evaluation of the project.”

Natural Power established its Chile office based in Valparaíso during 2009, serving the South American market. Projects to date have ranged from advanced resource analysis to construction services for a range of international clients, including this latest lidar campaign for Mainstream. “It was a very positive experience to work closely with the Mainstream team on this project,” says Alexander von Pescatore, head of development in Chile. “Our ZephIR lidar system operated with 100-percent system availability and 100-percent data availability in some challenging terrain and environmental conditions. There are many more sites in South America which will benefit from the use of ZephIR over more traditional anemometry due to site conditions and thermal effects.”

Natural Power is a leading renewable energy consultancy that specializes in progressing sites onshore and offshore for clients, from proof of concept through project development, construction, asset management, and onward to repowering or decommissioning. Natural Power have worked on more than 15,000 MW of wind, wave, and tidal sites across Europe, the U.S., and Canada, while also providing 360° due diligence on a range of portfolios and projects. The company delivers both technical and management services, as well as industry-leading products from offices across the UK, France, Chile, Canada, and the U.S. Send e-mail to or visit online at