Feeds

Big new wind turbines too close together, says top boffin

Latest windfarms 'underperforming'

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

A top American fluid-dynamics boffin says that new, larger wind turbines now going into service are going to have to be placed much further apart - which will have serious implications for the amount of energy produced by wind farms of the future.

The latest wind farms now going into service use huge turbines with rotor diameters in the 100m range, expected to offer large outputs. But according to engineering professor and fluid dynamics expert Charles Meneveau of Johns Hopkins University, there's a problem.

“The early experience is that they are producing less power than expected,” says Meneveau. “Some of these projects are underperforming.”

The prof, who has investigated air flow in wind farms for years, looked into the matter of the underperforming monster turbines along with Johan Meyers of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium.

“I believe our results are quite robust,” says Meneveau. “They indicate that large wind farm operators are going to have to space their turbines farther apart.”

Big turbines are at the moment generally installed about seven rotor diameters apart, but Meneveau and Meyers say that the optimum spacing is actually 15 diameters, slightly more than twice as far apart.

If this plan were followed, a wind farm covering a given area would only be able to install a quarter of the number of turbines it could have under today's planning assumptions. Though the amount of energy generated per turbine would be the best possible, it seems unlikely that such efficiency gains could possibly compensate for the cut in numbers.

On the other hand, if windfarms continue to be constructed with turbines crowded more closely together, they will continue to produce less electricity than their builders had expected.

Overall the professor's research would appear to mean that projected output figures for large new windfarms - for instance the UK's planned, enormous offshore Round 3 facilities, expected to be built in the North Sea from 2015 - will have to be revised downwards one way or another.

Professor Meneveau presented the research, based on wind tunnel studies carried out at Johns Hopkins, at a physics conference recently. The outlines of it are reported in The Johns Hopkins University Gazette. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
All those new '5G standards'? Here's the science they rely on
Radio professor tells us how wireless will get faster in the real world
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.