This is a neat idea: wind turbines that use LIDAR (akin to RADAR, using light) to anticipate the strength of wind, and prepare for it in advance:
Dr Mikkelsen and his colleagues worked out that they could use lidar to scan incoming wind and determine how it was behaving before it struck the turbine. To try this idea out, they first placed lidar devices at the base of 120-metre-tall wind turbines at Hovsore, the Danish test site for such devices. The lidars scanned the approaching winds with a laser that produced infra-red light with a wavelength of 1.55 microns. Reflected light was detected by a device so sensitive that it could pick up one returning photon (the quantum-mechanical particles of which light is composed) out of every thousand billion fired by the laser. The device measured wind movement at 40, 60, 80, and 100 metres above the ground, and 100-200 metres in front of the turbine. The data it collected were then compared with wind measurements taken by cup anemometers (the sort that spin when struck by wind, to record its speed) in order to calibrate the lidar. That done, the computer which analyses the lidar data can be connected to the motors that adjust the pitch of the turbine blades, in order to maximise energy production and reduce damage.
Such technologies could help deal with minute-to-minute changes in wind speed, improving the reliability of wind farm output.