Charles Meneveau, a John Hopkins fluid mechanics and turbulence expert, and his colleague Johan Meyers, from Belgium, have devised a wind turbine arrangement that could enhance their efficiency.
So far, wind turbines had been considered as standalone units, with few researchers taking into account the effects that the distances between them have on their final output. Meneveau and Meyer found out that the current space of 7 rotor diameters between two adjacent wind turbines is not enough to overcome the effects of the wind turbulence created.
Instead, they found that a distance of 15 rotor diameters would suffice (that would be about 4,500 feet, or 1.3 kilometers). I don’t know if the space would realistically be enough for all the turbines to have such a setup, but the researchers say they would be much more cost-efficient.
The two scientists found out that the energy generated by a large wind farm is not influenced as much by horizontal winds, but by the strong winds that the turbulence created by them pulls down from higher altitudes. Their new setup would stir the air even more and would draw more kinetic energy from those high altitudes, a fact confirmed by wind tunnel tests in the John Hopkins wind tunnel.
They measured the data concerning the interaction of the air currents and the turbines by using a measurement procedure called “stereo particle-image-velocimetry.” Further funding is still needed and has been applied for, to continue this study.