Industry News




 

02/27/2013

Is Wind Farm Potential Being Greatly Overestimated?

 
Are large-scale wind farms really performing?  New research may indicate that the potential may be greatly overestimated.

Renewable energy. Wind turbines.  Sustainable solutions.  People often consider wind as an energy source with few limits, offering an unending power source with distinct capacity advantages over sources that deplete, such as fossil fuel.  Facilities and buildings are turning to wind as a sustainable solution, but has the power capacity of large-scale wind farms been completely blown out of proportion?

New research in mesoscale atmospheric modeling by UNC Charlotte's Amanda S. Adams and Harvard University's David W. Keith, published Monday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, suggests that the power capacity of large-scale wind farms may have been significantly overestimated.

With large-scale wind farms, as many as hundreds of turbines mounted on tall towers and connected to the electrical grid capture the kinetic energy of the wind. Each wind turbine creates a "wind shadow" behind it, in which the turning blades slow the air. In an effort to reduce the impact of the wind shadows, wind farms space the turbines apart, while still locating as many turbines as they can on the land.

Current estimates of the global wind power resource over land range from 56 to 400 terawatts. Most of these estimates assume implicitly that the turbines extracting the wind energy have little impact on the atmosphere and, therefore, little effect on the energy production.

The new research says that scientists have underestimated the impact that large numbers of wind turbines have on energy production within large farms. Estimates of wind capacity that ignore the effect of wind turbine drag on local winds have assumed that wind power production of 2 and 4 watts per square meter could be sustained over large areas.

The new modeling results suggest that the generating capacity is more likely limited to about 1 watt per square meter at wind farms that are larger than 100 square kilometers.

"It's easy to mistake the term renewable with the term unlimited when discussing energy," Adams says. "Just because you can keep generating new energy from a source does not mean you can generate energy in an unlimited amount."

The research suggests the potential for wind energy could be significantly less than previously thought.

"It's important to take into account all factors impacting the wind energy, so we can assess the capacity of this critical power resource," Adams says. "One of the inherent challenges is how harvesting the resource changes it, making it difficult to accurately calculate how much energy can be produced. The modeling we have done provides information that can help in the understanding of our ability to count on renewable energy sources."

The research also considers the impact of wind energy production on temperatures and by extension possibly climate. Wind farms change the natural wind shear and produce various scales of turbulence. Higher potential temperatures are mixed downward due to this turbulence and result in low level warming, the research indicates.

"Our research suggests that how densely the turbines are placed affects not only energy production but also environmental impacts," Adams says. "We see this impact on average temperatures not only at large-scale farms, but also in small-density wind farms. Some things to consider are the magnitude of temperature changes and also the size of the area affected. We think these findings indicate that additional research is needed in these areas."

Adams' primary research interests focus on mesoscale phenomena, processes, and modeling with an emphasis on phenomena that involve boundary layer processes and/or topographic influences. In recent years, she and her research group at UNC Charlotte have focused on the link between small-scale processes and climate, particularly at the atmosphere and earth surface interface. Her research group concentrates primarily on question at the interface between energy, weather and climate.

Current questions her group is addressing include: How will large scale wind energy development impact the Great Plains low level jet? What are the meteorological conditions that lead to wind turbine icing? How does temperature variability in urban areas impact electricity demand? Can we quantify the risks of off shore wind turbines to hurricanes? The energy-related research that Adams' group is conducting includes collaborations with San Diego Gas & Electric, Xcel Energy, and the Weather Underground.

 


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Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.


Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.


When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.

Bluebeam® Revu® simplifies digital facilities document management from design review to leveraging as-builts, maintenance manuals and O&Ms submittals.

 


 
09/17/2014

A new technology developed at Rice University effectively deices glass surfaces while remaining transparent for radio frequency transmission.

09/16/2014

The USGBC and American Chemistry Council have put aside their differences to work together on new improvements to the LEED certification system. 

09/15/2014

Researchers have developed a new process to help cloud computing systems use less energy while continuing to provide high levels of data services.

09/12/2014

Researchers have found the main factors that influence the amount and type of building damage caused by various types of salts. 

09/11/2014

A new study has demonstrated that proactive ergonomic training can decrease worker discomfort and increase productivity. 

09/10/2014

The University of Utah has upgraded its historic Dumke Health Professions Education building to save an impressive 40% on energy costs.

09/09/2014

Hoping to build on LEED's success, PEER evaulates the performance and modernization of electric grids. 

09/08/2014

The USGBC has developed a new tool to help streamline the LEED certification process. 

09/05/2014

Researchers have developed a fluorescent lamp that emits Wi-Fi signals to allow connectivity throughout buildings.

09/04/2014

Tests show effective measures for reducing earthquake damage to computer servers. 

09/03/2014

Health costs drop by half as a result of environmental regulations.

09/02/2014

A new study challenges the idea that sparse workplaces produce happier, more productive employees.

08/29/2014

New tool from FEMA helps facility managers prepare for and mitigate the effects of nonstructural earthquake damage. 

08/28/2014

Is your building's exterior prepared for consistent snowstorms?

08/27/2014

Researchers have developed wearable, customizable technology to handle access control at busy hotels. 

08/26/2014

A new study shows that hotels which are LEED certified bring in more revenue than their non-certified competitors. 

08/25/2014

Policies designed to reduce carbon emissions have the added benefit of increasing air quality, which could pay for the reduction policies themselves. 

08/22/2014

Researchers at Michigan State University have developed a luminescent solar concentrator that is as transparent as glass. 

08/21/2014

The Department of Energy has released two reports which indicate wind turbine installations and efficiency is growing while prices drop. 

08/20/2014

The NHL has partnered with the NRDC to release their first sustainability report. 

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