Large Wind Farms Might Produce Less Energy Than Thought

sunwindturbines.jpg.492x0_q85_crop-smartA study conducted by scientists from University of North Carolina and Harvard University claims that global wind power resources have been significantly overestimated.

Amanda S Adams and David W Keith state that production levels of 2 to 7 watts per square meter, estimated before, are unrealistic and should be brought down to not more than 0.5- 1 watt per square meter.

It is a common practice in some places to increase the number of wind turbines if the electricity demands raise. This is because previous studies indicate that more turbines per area guarantee higher power production.

The scientists, however, proved that the interactions between wind turbines have negative effect on energy generation. As Harvard’s physicist David Keith explains, the so called ‘wind shadow’ created by the turbines influences the rates, and therefore should be taken into consideration when the distance between wind turbines.

In addition, large wind farms could affect regional wind patterns, exactly because of these wind shadows. The study indicates that if a wind farm covers more than 100 square kilometers, the highest production level that can be reached would not exceed 1 watt per square meter.

According to the team, estimates that range between 2-4 watts per square meter do not consider the effect of wind turbines on local and regional wind patterns. Using a mesoscale model, the scientists were able to demonstrate that the overestimation of the energy production rates results from models that ignore the turbines effect.

To be able to plan accurately renewable energy production in the future and shape up future polices, such studies should be brought to readers attention more often.


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