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Large eddy simulation shows limits of downstream wind turbines

For comparison, scientists considered the cases of aligned and staggered wind turbine arrays in a neutral atmospheric boundary layer, as well as a reference case without wind turbines. Simulation courtesy David Bock, National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US.

A well-accepted principal of physics states (in plain English) that it is easier and takes less energy for systems to work in cooperation than in opposition. However, in a very large wind farm where wind turbines are placed relatively close together, operation and power production are influenced by the wake created by upstream wind turbines.

Given the sizable domain of a large wind farm — on the order of kilometers — scientists rely on wall-modeled large eddy simulations (LES) to depict turbulent flow within the farm. In agreement with field experiment data, the simulations show that wind turbines placed downstream of other turbines can decrease power production by as much as 50% compared to free-standing wind turbines.

To learn more about kinetic energy and entrainment in large wind turbine arrays, read the recent journal article published by Maneveau research group at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, Maryland, US.

- Amber Harmon

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