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NREL’s New Hi-Tech Software to Improve Wind Farm Performance

NREL’s Steve Hammond and Kenny Gruchalla tackle a 3D model of wind plant aerodynamics

It is fascinating to see wind turbines carefully planted in an array on a refreshing landscape and running along with strong winds in a seemingly serene and consistent manner; but behind this perceptively simplicity of wind farms is the complexity of their interactions with one another and the nature as well.

Various factors contribute to the structural loads that negatively impact a wind farm’s performance, and consequently, increase maintenance and overall costs of wind energy. One is wake turbulence, which results from the wind flowing through the turbine’s rotor.

Another is turbines’ interaction with each other as they are all ‘greedy,’ taking much energy from the surrounding wind without considering other turbines they are with. Hence, there are important issues that must be considered in positioning the turbines on a wind farm such as the spacing between them and the site’s terrain.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) aims to address the aforementioned complications of wind farms by gaining an in-depth understanding of the system through the analysis of actual wind turbine performance utilizing the data gathered both onshore and offshore, the large-eddy simulation models they have developed that would optimize and predict a wind farm’s performance at a greater accuracy, and the soon-to-be installed supercomputer, which would be the world’s fastest computing system.

On a side note, the wind farms’ impact on aerial animals and on the environment, in general, if not more than, is of equal importance with its performance issue that must also be assessed and given much attention.

[via PhysOrg]


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