Are wind farms slowing each other down?

The expansion of wind energy in the German Bight and the Baltic Sea has accelerated enormously in recent years. The first systems went into operation in 2008. Today, wind turbines with an output of around 8,000 megawatts operate in German waters, which corresponds to around eight nuclear power plants. But space is limited. For this reason, wind farms are sometimes built very close to one another. A team led by Dr. Naveed Akhtar from Helmholtz Zentrum Hereon has found that wind speeds at the downstream windfarm are significantly slowed down. As the researchers now write in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, this braking effect results in astonishingly large-scale low wind pattern noticeable in mean wind speeds. On average, they extend 35 to 40 kilometers—in certain weather conditions even up to 100 kilometers. The output of a neighboring wind farm can thus be reduced by 20 to 25 percent, which ultimately leads to economic consequences. If wind farms are planned close together, this wake effects need to be considered in the future.

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