How to improve production at wind farms

Pointing turbines slightly away from oncoming wind – called wake-steering – can reduce that interference and improve both the quantity and quality of power from wind farms, and probably lower operating costs, a new Stanford study shows.

“To meet global targets for renewable energy generation, we need to find ways to generate a lot more energy from existing wind farms,” said John Dabiri, professor of civil and environmental engineering and of mechanical engineering and senior author of the paper. “The traditional focus has been on the performance of individual turbines in a wind farm, but we need to instead start thinking about the farm as a whole, and not just as the sum of its parts.”

Turbine wakes can reduce the efficiency of downwind generators by more than 40%. Previously, researchers have used computer simulations to show that misaligning turbines from the prevailing winds could raise production of downstream turbines. However, showing this on a real wind farm has been hindered by challenges in finding a wind farm willing to halt normal operations for an experiment and in calculating best angles for the turbine – until now.

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