Rethinking Wind Power

The future of wind power isn't quite as bright as we thought.

... the latest research in mesoscale atmospheric modeling, published February 25 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, suggests that the generating capacity of large-scale wind farms has been overestimated.

Each wind turbine creates behind it a "wind shadow" in which the air has been slowed down by drag on the turbine's blades. The ideal wind farm strikes a balance, packing as many turbines onto the land as possible, while also spacing them enough to reduce the impact of these wind shadows. But as wind farms grow larger, they start to interact, and the regional-scale wind patterns matter more.

"One of the inherent challenges of wind energy is that as soon as you start to develop wind farms and harvest the resource, you change the resource, making it difficult to assess what's really available,"...

"Our findings don't mean that we shouldn't pursue wind power -- wind is much better for the environment than conventional coal -- but these geophysical limits may be meaningful if we really want to scale wind power up to supply a third, let's say, of our primary energy,"...

Tags: wind power

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Replies to This Discussion

More bad news for wind power.

Medium-sized waves can break wind turbines at sea like matches. These waves occur even in small storms, which are quite common in the Norwegian Sea. 

Windmills at Sea Can Break Like Matches

I'm familiar with resonant vibration of bridges, but didn't think about it affecting sea wind turbines.  

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