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Forecasting the wind

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Wind turbines need a lot of wind to create electricity. Their placement is critical. That’s why the science and technology behind predicting where the wind blows the most is now becoming big business.

Bruce Bailey is the CEO of AWS Truepower based in Colonie, a town just outside of Albany. You could say he’s kind of a meteorologist. Bailey used to be one on television. But the Syracuse, N.Y. native decided that studying wind patterns instead was his passion. He did atmospheric research for the University at Albany before he started AWS Truepower.

According to NYSERDA, New York Energy Research and Development Authority, for the past ten years, Bailey’s company has been leading the way in deciding where wind farms should be built and how much energy they would produce over time. A spokesman forMeteodyn, a French company that competes with AWS Truepower agrees Bailey is the leader in the wind mapping industry. Bailey was instrumental in the creation of the first wind farm in New York State located in Madison County.

Bailey says catching a breeze to make electricity is a growing trend around the world. He says wind is caused by the sun’s uneven heating of the earth’s surface. The wind blows best in open areas. That’s why states like Montana and Wyoming are the windiest places in America. Bailey’s company was one of the first to develop high tech software and use sophisticated meteorology equipment to predict wind conditions for electricity purposes.

“These maps now have been widely adapted, not only nationally but internationally. So we’re now the global leader in wind mapping to help developers and government agencies identify where wind energy development can occur, where it can happen economically,” Bailey said.

AWS Truepower was able to grow from about 10 employees to now 125. Bailey says off shore wind energy is the next area of large scale wind projects.

Innovation Trail alumnus Dan Bazile is former reporter for WMHT in Albany. He has covered a wide range of topics, from town board meetings, to the September 11th terrorist attacks.