Sep 19, 2013
Insight: wind farms could impact atmosphere less than previously believed
Results from a recent field campaign in the US Midwest show that wind farm impacts on wind speed and turbulence at a hub-height of 80 metres are localized to 2 km or less during springtime. The wind turbine wakes observed in this study, which is published in Environmental Research Letters (ERL), also appear to recover much more rapidly than suggested by previous numerical weather models with parameterized wind turbines.
This research suggests that wind farms could be located much nearer to existing installations than prior modelling studies have indicated. Our observations suggest that 2 km away, the natural background variability of the planetary boundary is greater than the signal from the wind farm. However, wind farms do tend to increase night-time near-surface temperatures by 1–2°C, with potentially important agricultural implications for groups of wind turbines collocated with soy and corn crops in the Midwest.