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Sustainable Ecosystems and Community News: Wind Turbine Arrangement: Staggering Results
From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
Published October 31, 2013 03:48 PM

Wind Turbine Arrangement: Staggering Results

Location and organization apparently matters after all! Or at least that is what Cristina Archer, Assistant Professor at the University of Delaware has discovered with regard to wind turbine efficiency.  Dr. Archer headed up a team of researchers from UD's College of Earth, Ocean and Environment to conduct studies on the effects of various wind turbine organizational placement patterns. Using a wind farm near Sweden for the basis of their study, they compared existing tightly paced, grid-like layouts to six alternate configurations. They tried multiple spacing distances in various styles of rows: straight arrays, linear but equal offsets and a staggered theatre style where any turbine in front does not obstruct the view from any one behind.

 

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The team conducted computerized simulations taking into account eddies, wind currents and swirls of choppy air emanating from the downdraft of neighboring turbine blades. 

Archer's team learned that the most efficient arrangement was a combination of two approaches. By maintaining a liberal amount of space between turbines and staggering them decreased the energy losses caused by eddies. By using this staggered approach Archer and her team was able to improve the collective performance by 33 percent. 

Understanding wind currents and optimizing turbine placement based upon them is key to maximizing the wind energy's potential. Archer and her team tested seasonal differences of prevailing wind directions throughout the year noting that wind currents change with each meteorological shift.

Professor Archer's academic background is in both meteorology and engineering, enabling her to best understand and apply weather data and complex calculations to estimate the potential for wind as a power source. The results of her study will be very valuable to the future of offshore wind farm location and design.

Another study of Archer's focused on the seasonality of wind energy worldwide and maximizing its seasonal opportunities. Through this study her team found that in most potential wind energy sites, capacity is greatest from December to February. Her ongoing wind studies have given greater understanding to the potential and environmental impact of wind power.  Archer says it herself;  "I'm hoping these will be tools for giving a general overview of wind at the global scale."

Read more at The University of Delaware.

Image via  The University of Delaware.

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