As long as mandates and subsidies continue, wind turbines will continue to be part of the alternative energy mix.
That means going beyond hype and potential and focusing on physical design, such as spacing and orienting individual turbines to maximize their efficiency and minimize any "wake effects," where the swooping blades of one reduces the energy in the wind available for the following turbine.
Many considerations go into the design of a wind farm. Political and social considerations factor into the choice of sites but after that, ideal turbine arrangement will differ depending on location. The specific topology of the landscape, whether hilly or flat, and the yearlong weather patterns at that site both dictate the specific designs. Common test cases to study wind-farm behavior are wind farms in which turbines are either installed in rows, which will be aligned against the prevailing winds, or in staggered, checkerboard-style blocks where each row of turbines is spaced to peek out between the gaps in the previous row.
Staggered farms are generally preferred because they harvest more energy in a smaller footprint, but what Stevens and his colleagues showed is that the checkerboard style can be improved in some cases.
Optimally spacing turbines allows them to capture more wind, produce more power and increase revenue for the farm. Knowing this, designers in the industry typically apply simple computer models to help determine the best arrangements of the turbines. This is fine for small wind farms but for larger wind-farms, where the wakes interact with one another, the overall effect is harder to predict.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University say they have developed a new way to study wake effects that takes into account the airflow both within and around a wind farm and challenges the conventional belief that turbines arrayed in checker board patterns produce the highest power output. Their study provides insight into factors that determine the most favorable positioning. This insight is important for wind project designers in the future to configure turbine farms for increased power output -- especially in places with strong prevailing winds.
"It's important to consider these configurations in test cases," said Richard Stevens, who conducted the research with Charles Meneveau and Dennice Gayme at Johns Hopkins University. "If turbines are build in a non-optimal arrangement, the amount of electricity produced would be less and so would the revenue of the wind farm."
Specifically, they found that better power output may be obtained through an "intermediate" staggering, where each row is imperfectly offset -- like a checkerboard that has slipped slightly out of whack.
Citation: Richard J. A. M. Stevens, Dennice F. Gayme and Charles Meneveau, 'Large Eddy Simulation studies of the effects of alignment and wind farm length', Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, DOI: 10.1063/1.4869568.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- The Number Of My Publications Has Four Digits
- Professor Frenkel: Why Shouldn't We Drop Algebra From Our Education System?
- Matter Can Potentially Accelerate The Expansion Of The Universe
- The Geology Of Wine
- Metal Hip Replacements Implanted Since 2006 More Prone To Failure
- Unified Mathematical Field Theory Talk
- Exposure To Particulate Air Pollutants Associated With Numerous Cancers
- "of course they can adopt to the thinking of humans because they programmed by humans so whatever..."
- "Just to add a link, may update article later - to BBC news article about Hinksey power station..."
- "I have a fair amount of math and physics background, and I am sorry but this is not excellent...."
- "There are even papers considering possible dark energy fields that would couple to the standard..."
- "Dear Hank, the United Nations are just a silly NGO. They are not running my country and they are..."
- Mechanism discovered for plants to regulate their flowering in a warming world
- Scientists discover oral sexual encounters in spiders
- Light-powered 3-D printer creates terahertz lens
- Finding sheds light on what may kill neurons after stroke
- Salt-inducible kinases may have therapeutic potential for autoimmune diseases