Wind farm

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The Gansu Wind Farm in China is the largest wind farm in the world, with a target capacity of 20,000 MW by 2020. Gansu.Guazhou.windturbine farm.sunset.jpg
The Gansu Wind Farm in China is the largest wind farm in the world, with a target capacity of 20,000 MW by 2020.
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is an 845 MW wind farm in the U.S. state of Oregon. Shepherds Flat Wind Farm 2011.jpg
The Shepherds Flat Wind Farm is an 845 MW wind farm in the U.S. state of Oregon.

A wind farm or wind park is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electricity. A large wind farm may consist of several hundred individual wind turbines and cover an extended area of hundreds of square miles, but the land between the turbines may be used for agricultural or other purposes. A wind farm can also be located offshore.

Wind turbine device that converts wind energy into mechanical and electric energy

A wind turbine, or alternatively referred to as a wind energy converter, is a device that converts the wind's kinetic energy into electrical energy.

Contents

Many of the largest operational onshore wind farms are located in China, India, and the United States. For example, the largest wind farm in the world, Gansu Wind Farm in China had a capacity of over 6,000  MW by 2012, [1] with a goal of 20,000 MW by 2020. As of September 2018, the 659 MW Walney Wind Farm in the UK is the largest offshore wind farm in the world. [2]

Gansu Wind Farm wind farm project in Gansu province, China

The Gansu Wind Farm Project or Jiuquan Wind Power Base is a group of large wind farms under construction in western Gansu province in China. The Gansu Wind Farm Project is located in desert areas near the city of Jiuquan in two localities of Guazhou County and also near Yumen City, in the northwest province of Gansu, which has an abundance of wind resources. The complex is operating at below 40% utilization of the current 8 GW with a planned capacity of 20 GW.

Walney Wind Farm

Walney Wind Farms are a group of offshore wind farms 9 miles (14 km) west of Walney Island off the coast of Cumbria, in the Irish Sea, England. The group, operated by Ørsted, consists of Walney Phase 1, Phase 2 and the Walney Extension. The extension has a capacity of 659 MW making it the world's largest offshore wind farm.

Individual wind turbine designs continue to increase in power, resulting in fewer turbines being needed for the same total output. See list of most powerful wind turbines.

Design and location

Map of available wind power over the United States. Color codes indicate wind power density class United States Wind Resources and Transmission Lines map.jpg
Map of available wind power over the United States. Color codes indicate wind power density class

The location is critical to the success of a wind farm. Conditions contributing to a successful wind farm location include: wind conditions, access to electric transmission, physical access, and local electric prices.

The faster the average wind speed, the more electricity the wind turbine will generate, so faster winds are generally economically better for wind farm developments. The balancing factor is that strong gusts and high turbulence require stronger more expensive turbines, otherwise they risk damage. The average power in the wind is not proportional to the average wind speed, however. For this reason, the ideal wind conditions would be strong but consistent winds with low turbulence coming from a single direction.

Mountain passes are ideal locations for wind farms under these conditions. Mountain passes channel wind blocked by mountains through a tunnel like pass towards areas of lower pressure and flatter land. [3] Passes used for wind farms like the San Gorgonio Pass and Altamont Pass are known for their abundant wind resource capacity and capability for large-scale wind farms. These types of passes were the first places in the 1980’s to have heavily invested large-scale wind farms after approval for wind energy development by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. From these wind farms, developers learned a lot about turbulence and crowding effects of large-scale wind projects previously unresearched in the U.S. due to the lack of operational wind farms large enough to conduct these types of studies on. [4]

San Gorgonio Pass wind farm

The San Gorgonio Pass wind farm is a wind farm located on the eastern slope of the San Gorgonio Pass in Riverside County, just east of White Water, California, United States. Developed beginning in the 1980s, it is one of three major wind farms in California, along with those at Altamont and the Tehachapi Passes. The gateway into the Coachella Valley, the San Gorgonio Pass is one of the windiest places in Southern California.

Altamont Pass wind farm

The Altamont Pass wind farm is located in the Altamont Pass of the Diablo Range in Northern California. It is one of the earliest wind farms in the United States. The first wind turbines were placed on the Altamont in the early 1980s by Fayette Manufacturing Corporation on land owned by cattle rancher Joe Jess. The wind farm is composed of 4930 relatively small wind turbines of various types, making it at one time the largest wind farm in the world in terms of capacity. Altamont Pass is still one of the largest concentration of wind turbines in the world, with a capacity of 576 megawatts (MW), producing about 125 MW on average and 1.1 terawatt-hours (TWh) yearly. They were installed after the 1970s energy crisis in response to favorable tax policies for investors.

Usually sites are screened on the basis of a wind atlas, and validated with on-site wind measurements via long term or permanent meterological-tower data using anemometers and wind vanes. Meteorological wind data alone is usually not sufficient for accurate siting of a large wind power project. Collection of site specific data for wind speed and direction is crucial to determining site potential [5] [6] in order to finance the project. [7] Local winds are often monitored for a year or more, detailed wind maps are constructed, along with rigorous grid capability studies conducted, before any wind generators are installed.

Wind atlas

A wind atlas contains data on the wind speed and wind direction in a region. These data include maps, but also time series or frequency distributions. A climatological wind atlas covers hourly averages at a standard height over even longer periods. But depending on the application there are variations in averaging time, height and period.

Anemometer meteorological instrumentation used for measuring the speed of wind

An anemometer is a device used for measuring wind speed, and is also a common weather station instrument. The term is derived from the Greek word anemos, which means wind, and is used to describe any wind speed instrument used in meteorology. The first known description of an anemometer was given by Leon Battista Alberti in 1450.

Weather vane meteorological instrumentation

A weather vane, wind vane, or weathercock is an instrument for showing the direction of the wind. It is typically used as an architectural ornament to the highest point of a building. The word vane comes from the Old English word fana meaning "flag".

Part of the Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, Oregon, United States with a turbine under construction Biglow Canyon Wind Farm under construction.jpg
Part of the Biglow Canyon Wind Farm, Oregon, United States with a turbine under construction

The wind blows faster at higher altitudes because of the reduced influence of drag. The increase in velocity with altitude is most dramatic near the surface and is affected by topography, surface roughness, and upwind obstacles such as trees or buildings. However, at higher altitudes, the power in the wind decreases proportional to the decrease in air density. Rendering significantly less efficient power extraction by the wind turbines, requiring for a higher investment for the same generation capacity at lower altitudes. [8]

How closely to space the turbines together is a major factor in wind farm design. The closer the turbines are together the more the upwind turbines block wind from their neighbors. However spacing turbines far apart increases the costs of roads and cables, and raises the amount of land needed to install a specific capacity of turbines. As a result of these factors, turbine spacing varies by site. Generally speaking manufacturers require 3.5 times the rotor diameter of the turbine between turbines as a minimum. Closer spacing is possible depending on the turbine model, the conditions at the site, and how the site will be operated.[ citation needed ]

Often in heavily saturated energy markets, the first step in site selection  for large-scale wind projects before wind resource data collection is finding areas with adequate Available Transfer Capability (ATC). ATC is the measure of the remaining capacity in a transmission system available for further integration of generation without significant upgrades to transmission lines and substations, which have substantial costs, potentially undermining the viability of a project within that area, regardless of wind resource availability. [9] Once a list of capable areas is constructed, the list is refined based on long term wind measurements, among other environmental or technical limiting factors such as proximity to load and land procurement.

Many Independent System Operators (ISO’s) in the United States such as the California ISO and Midcontinent ISO use interconnection request queues to allow developers to propose new generation for a specific given area and grid interconnection. [10] These request queues have both deposit costs at the time of request and ongoing costs for the studies the ISO will make for up to years after the request was submitted to ascertain the viability of the interconnection due to factors such as ATC. [11] Larger corporations who can afford to bid the most queues will most likely have market power as to which sites with the most resource and opportunity get to be developed upon. After the deadline to request a place in the queue has passed, many firms will withdraw their requests after gauging the competition in order to make back some of the deposit for each request that is determined too risky in comparison to other larger firms’ requests.

Onshore

The world's first wind farm was 0.6 MW, consisting of 20 wind turbines rated at 30 kilowatts each, installed on the shoulder of Crotched Mountain in southern New Hampshire in December 1980. [12] [13]

World's largest onshore wind farms
Wind farmCurrent
capacity
(MW)
CountryNotes
Gansu Wind Farm 6,800 China [1] [14] [15] [16] [17]
Zhang Jiakou3,000 China [14]
Urat Zhongqi, Bayannur City2,100 China [14]
Hami Wind Farm2,000 China [14]
Damao Qi, Baotou City1,600 China [14]
Alta (Oak Creek-Mojave) 1,320 United States [18]
Jaisalmer Wind Park 1,064 India [19]
Hongshagang, Town, Minqin County1,000 China [14]
Kailu, Tongliao1,000 China [14]
Chengde1,000 China [14]
Shepherds Flat Wind Farm 845United States
Roscoe Wind Farm 781.5United States [20]
Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center 735.5United States [21] [22]
Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm 662.5United States [21] [22]
Fântânele-Cogealac Wind Farm 600 Romania [23]
Fowler Ridge Wind Farm 599.8United States [24]
Sweetwater Wind Farm 585.3United States [21]
Zarafara Wind Farm545Egypt [25]
Whitelee Wind Farm 539Scotland, U.K
Buffalo Gap Wind Farm 523.3United States [21] [22]
Meadow Lake Wind Farm 500United States [24]
Dabancheng Wind Farm 500 China [26]
Panther Creek Wind Farm 458United States [22]

Onshore turbine installations in hilly or mountainous regions tend to be on ridges generally three kilometres or more inland from the nearest shoreline. This is done to exploit the topographic acceleration as the wind accelerates over a ridge. The additional wind speeds gained in this way can increase energy produced because more wind goes through the turbines. The exact position of each turbine matters, because a difference of 30m could potentially double output. This careful placement is referred to as 'micro-siting'.

Offshore

Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen, Denmark. DanishWindTurbines.jpg
Offshore wind turbines near Copenhagen, Denmark.

Europe is the leader in offshore wind energy, with the first offshore wind farm (Vindeby) being installed in Denmark in 1991. As of 2010, there are 39 offshore wind farms in waters off Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom, with a combined operating capacity of 2,396 MW. More than 100 GW (or 100,000 MW) of offshore projects are proposed or under development in Europe. The European Wind Energy Association has set a target of 40 GW installed by 2020 and 150 GW by 2030. [27]

As of 2017, The Walney Wind Farm in the United Kingdom is the largest offshore wind farm in the world at 659 MW, followed by the London Array (630 MW) also in the UK.

The world's 10 largest offshore wind farms
Wind farm Capacity
(MW)
Country Turbines & modelCommissionedRefs
Walney 659United Kingdom102 × 3.6 MW, 47 x Siemens Gamesa 7 MW, 40 x MHI Vestas V164 8.25Mw2012 [28] [2]
London Array 630 United Kingdom 175 × Siemens SWT-3.62013 [29]
Gemini Wind Farm 600 Netherlands 150 × Siemens SWT-4.02017 [30]
Greater Gabbard wind farm 504United Kingdom140 × Siemens SWT-3.62012 [31]
Anholt 400 Denmark 111 × Siemens 3.6-1202013 [32] [33] [34] [35]
BARD Offshore 1 400 Germany 80 × BARD 5.02013 [36] [37] [38]
Rampion Wind Farm 400 United Kingdom 116 x Vestas V112-3.45MW2018 [39] [40]
Thorntonbank 325 Belgium 6 × REpower 5MW and
48 × REpower 6.15MW
2013 [41] [42]
Sheringham Shoal 315United Kingdom88 × Siemens 3.6-1072012 [43] [44] [45] [46]
Thanet 300United Kingdom100 × Vestas V90-3MW 2010 [47] [48]

Offshore wind turbines are less obtrusive than turbines on land, as their apparent size and noise is mitigated by distance. Because water has less surface roughness than land (especially deeper water), the average wind speed is usually considerably higher over open water. Capacity factors (utilisation rates) are considerably higher than for onshore locations. [49]

The province of Ontario in Canada is pursuing several proposed locations in the Great Lakes, including the suspended [50] Trillium Power Wind 1 approximately 20 km from shore and over 400 MW in size. [51] Other Canadian projects include one on the Pacific west coast. [52]

In 2010, there were no offshore wind farms in the United States, but projects were under development in wind-rich areas of the East Coast, Great Lakes, and Pacific coast; [27] and in late 2016 the Block Island Wind Farm was commissioned.

Installation and service / maintenance of off-shore wind farms are a specific challenge for technology and economic operation of a wind farm. As of 2015, there are 20 jackup vessels for lifting components, but few can lift sizes above 5MW. [53] Service vessels have to be operated nearly 24/7 (availability higher than 80% of time) to get sufficient amortisation from the wind turbines.[ citation needed ] Therefore, special fast service vehicles for installation (like Wind Turbine Shuttle) as well as for maintenance (including heave compensation and heave compensated working platforms to allow the service staff to enter the wind turbine also at difficult weather conditions) are required. So-called inertial and optical based Ship Stabilization and Motion Control systems (iSSMC) are used for that.

Experimental and proposed wind farms

Experimental wind farms consisting of a single wind turbine for testing purposes have been built. One such installation is Østerild Wind Turbine Test Field.

Airborne wind farms have been envisaged. Such wind farms are a group of airborne wind energy systems located close to each other connected to the grid at the same point. [54]

Wind farms consisting of diverse wind turbines have been proposed in order to efficiently use wider ranges of wind speeds. Such wind farms are proposed to be projected under two criteria: maximization of the energy produced by the farm and minimization of its costs. [55]

By region

Australia

The Australian Canunda Wind Farm, South Australia at sunrise Canunda wind farm DKC1.jpg
The Australian Canunda Wind Farm, South Australia at sunrise
Large operational wind farms in Australia: September 2012 [56] [57] [58] [59]
Wind farmInstalled capacity
(MW)
DeveloperState
Collgar Wind Farm 206 UBS Investment Bank & Retail Employees Superannuation Trust Western Australia
Capital Wind Farm 140.7 Infigen Energy New South Wales
Hallett Group 298 AGL Energy South Australia
Lake Bonney Wind Farm 278 Infigen Energy South Australia
Portland Group 132 Victoria
Waubra Wind Farm 192 Acciona Energy & ANZ Infrastructure Services Victoria
Woolnorth Wind Farm 140 Roaring 40s & Hydro Tasmania Tasmania

Canada

The Pubnico Wind Farm taken from Beach Point, Lower East Pubnico, Nova Scotia Beach Point-Lower East Pubnico (wind farm).jpg
The Pubnico Wind Farm taken from Beach Point, Lower East Pubnico, Nova Scotia
Large wind farms in Canada [60]
NameCapacity
(MW)
Location Province
Anse-à-Valleau Wind Farm 100 Gaspé Quebec
Caribou Wind Park 9970 km west of Bathurst New Brunswick
Bear Mountain Wind Park 120 Dawson Creek British Columbia
Centennial Wind Power Facility 150 Swift Current Saskatchewan
Enbridge Ontario Wind Farm 181 Kincardine Ontario
Erie Shores Wind Farm 99 Port Burwell Ontario
Jardin d'Eole Wind Farm 127 Saint-Ulric Quebec
Kent Hills Wind Farm 96 Riverside-Albert New Brunswick
Melancthon EcoPower Centre 199 Melancthon Ontario
Port Alma Wind Farm 101 Chatham-Kent Ontario
Chatham Wind Farm 101Chatham-KentOntario
Prince Township Wind Farm 189 Sault Ste. Marie Ontario
St. Joseph Wind Farm138 Montcalm Manitoba
St. Leon Wind Farm 99 St. Leon Manitoba
Wolfe Island Wind Project 197 Frontenac Islands Ontario

China

Wind farm in Xinjiang, China Wind power plants in Xinjiang, China.jpg
Wind farm in Xinjiang, China

In just five years, China leapfrogged the rest of the world in wind energy production, going from 2,599 MW of capacity in 2006 to 62,733 MW at the end of 2011. [61] [62] [63] However, the rapid growth outpaced China's infrastructure and new construction slowed significantly in 2012. [64]

At the end of 2009, wind power in China accounted for 25.1  gigawatts (GW) of electricity generating capacity, [65] and China has identified wind power as a key growth component of the country's economy. [66] With its large land mass and long coastline, China has exceptional wind resources. [67] Researchers from Harvard and Tsinghua University have found that China could meet all of their electricity demands from wind power by 2030. [68]

By the end of 2008, at least 15 Chinese companies were commercially producing wind turbines and several dozen more were producing components. [69] Turbine sizes of 1.5 MW to 3 MW became common. Leading wind power companies in China were Goldwind, Dongfang Electric, and Sinovel [70] along with most major foreign wind turbine manufacturers. [71] China also increased production of small-scale wind turbines to about 80,000 turbines (80 MW) in 2008. Through all these developments, the Chinese wind industry appeared unaffected by the global financial crisis, according to industry observers. [70]

According to the Global Wind Energy Council, the development of wind energy in China, in terms of scale and rhythm, is absolutely unparalleled in the world. The National People's Congress permanent committee passed a law that requires the Chinese energy companies to purchase all the electricity produced by the renewable energy sector. [72]

European Union

First wind farm consisting of 7.5 megawatt (MW) Enercon E-126 turbines (Estinnes, Belgium, 20 July 2010), two months before completion; note the 2-part blades. Windpark Estinnes 20juli2010 kort voor voltooiing.jpg
First wind farm consisting of 7.5  megawatt (MW) Enercon E-126 turbines (Estinnes, Belgium, 20 July 2010), two months before completion; note the 2-part blades.
A wind farm in a mountainous area in Galicia, Spain Windpark Galicia.jpg
A wind farm in a mountainous area in Galicia, Spain
Wind farm in Lower Saxony, Germany Windpark-Wind-Farm.jpg
Wind farm in Lower Saxony, Germany

The European Union has a total installed wind capacity of 93,957 MW. Germany has the third-largest capacity in the world (after China and the United States) with an installed capacity was 29,060 MW at the end of 2011, and Spain has 21,674 MW. Italy and France each had between 6,000 and 7,000 MW. [73] [74] By January 2014, the UK installed capacity was 10,495 MW. [75] But energy production can be different from capacity – in 2010, Spain had the highest European wind power production with 43 TWh compared to Germany's 35 TWh. [76]

Europe's largest windfarm is the 'London Array', an off-shore wind farm in the Thames Estuary in the United Kingdom, with a current capacity of 630 MW (the world's largest off-shore wind farm). Other large wind farms in Europe include Fântânele-Cogealac Wind Farm near Constanța, Romania with 600 MW capacity, [77] [78] and Whitelee Wind Farm near Glasgow, Scotland which has a total capacity of 539 MW.

An important limiting factor of wind power is variable power generated by wind farms. In most locations the wind blows only part of the time, which means that there has to be back-up capacity of conventional generating capacity to cover periods that the wind is not blowing. To address this issue it has been proposed to create a "supergrid" to connect national grids together [79] across western Europe, ranging from Denmark across the southern North Sea to England and the Celtic Sea to Ireland, and further south to France and Spain especially in Higueruela which was for some time the biggest wind farm in the world. [80] The idea is that by the time a low pressure area has moved away from Denmark to the Baltic Sea the next low appears off the coast of Ireland. Therefore, while it is true that the wind is not blowing everywhere all of the time, it will always be blowing somewhere.

India

Progress in India's installed wind power generating capacity since 2006 India Windpower Installed capacity by year.png
Progress in India's installed wind power generating capacity since 2006

India has the fifth largest installed wind power capacity in the world. [81] As of 31 March 2014, the installed capacity of wind power was 21136.3 MW mainly spread across Tamil Nadu state (7253 MW). [82] [83] Wind power accounts nearly 8.5% of India's total installed power generation capacity, and it generates 1.6% of the country's power.

Japan

Jordan

The Tafila Wind Farm in Jordan, is the first large scale wind farm in the region. Tafila Wind Farm 1.jpg
The Tafila Wind Farm in Jordan, is the first large scale wind farm in the region.

The 117 MW Tafila Wind Farm in Jordan was inaugurated in December 2015, and is the first large scale wind farm project in the region. [84]

Morocco

Morocco has undertaken a vast wind energy program, to support the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the country. The Moroccan Integrated Wind Energy Project, spanning over a period of 10 years with a total investment estimated at $3.25 billion, will enable the country to bring the installed capacity, from wind energy, from 280 MW in 2010 to 2000 MW in 2020. [85] [86]

Pakistan

Jhimpir Wind Farm Jhimpir Wind Farm 2012.jpg
Jhimpir Wind Farm

Pakistan has wind corridors in Jhimpir, Gharo and Keti Bundar in Sindh province and is currently developing wind power plants in Jhimpir and Mirpur Sakro (District Thatta). The government of Pakistan decided to develop wind power energy sources due to problems supplying energy to the southern coastal regions of Sindh and Balochistan. The Zorlu Energy Putin Power Plant is the first wind power plant in Pakistan. The wind farm is being developed in Jhimpir, by Zorlu Energy Pakistan the local subsidiary of a Turkish company. The total cost of project is $136 million.[3] Completed in 2012, it has a total capacity of around 56MW. Fauji Fertilizer Company Energy Limited, has build a 49.5 MW wind Energy Farm at Jhimpir. Contract of supply of mechanical design was awarded to Nordex and Descon Engineering Limited. Nordex a German wind turbine manufacturer. In the end of 2011 49.6 MW will be completed.Pakistani Govt. also has issued LOI of 100 MW Wind power plant to FFCEL. Pakistani Govt. has plans to achieve electric power up to 2500 MW by the end of 2015 from wind energy to bring down energy shortage.

Currently four wind farms are operational (Fauji Fertilizer 49.5 MW (subsidiary of Fauji Foundation), Three Gorges 49.5 MW, Zorlu Energy Pakistan 56 MW, Sapphire Wind Power Co Ltd 52.6 MW) and six are under construction phase ( Master Wind Energy Ltd 52.6 MW, Sachal Energy Development Ltd 49.5 MW, Yunus Energy Ltd 49.5 MW, Gul Energy 49.5 MW, Metro Energy 49.5 MW, Tapal Energy ) and expected to achieve COD in 2017.

In Gharo wind corridor, two wind farms (Foundation Energy 1 & II each 49.5 MW) are operational while two wind farms Tenaga Generasi Ltd 49.5 MW and HydroChina Dawood Power Pvt Ltd 49.5 are under construction and expected to achieve COD in 2017.

According to a USAID report, Pakistan has the potential of producing 150,000 megawatts of wind energy, of which only the Sindh corridor can produce 40,000 megawatts.

Philippines

The Philippines has the first windfarm in Southeast Asia. Located Northern part of the countries' biggest island Luzon, alongside the seashore of Bangui, Ilocos Norte.

The wind farm uses 20 units of 70-metre (230 ft) high Vestas V82 1.65 MW wind turbines, arranged on a single row stretching along a nine-kilometer shoreline off Bangui Bay, facing the West Philippine Sea.

Phase I of the NorthWind power project in Bangui Bay consists of 15 wind turbines, each capable of producing electricity up to a maximum capacity of 1.65 MW, for a total of 24.75 MW. The 15 on-shore turbines are spaced 326 metres (1,070 ft) apart, each 70 metres (230 ft) high, with 41 metres (135 ft) long blades, with a rotor diameter of 82 metres (269 ft) and a wind swept area of 5,281 square metres (56,840 sq ft). Phase II, was completed on August 2008, and added 5 more wind turbines with the same capacity, and brought the total capacity to 33 MW. All 20 turbines describes a graceful arc reflecting the shoreline of Bangui Bay, facing the West Philippine Sea.

Adjacent municipalities of Burgos and Pagudpud followed with 50 and 27 wind turbines with a capacity of 3 MW each for a Total of 150 MW and 81 MW respectively.

Two other wind farms were built outside of Ilocos Norte, the Pililla Wind Farm in Rizal and the Mindoro Wind Farm near Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has received funding from the Asian Development Bank amounting to $300 million to invest in renewable energies. From this funding as well as $80 million from the Sri Lankan Government and $60 million from France’s Agence Française de Développement, Sri Lanka is building two 100MW wind farms from 2017 due to be completed by late 2020 in Northern Sri Lanka. [87]

South Africa

Turbines at the Gouda Wind Facility just outside the town of Gouda, South Africa. Gouda Wind Farm 2015.JPG
Turbines at the Gouda Wind Facility just outside the town of Gouda, South Africa.

As of September 2015 a number of sizable wind farms have been constructed in South Africa mostly in the Western Cape region. These include the 100 MW Sere Wind Farm and the 138 MW Gouda Wind Facility.

Most future wind farms in South Africa are earmarked for locations along the Eastern Cape coastline. [88] [89] [90] Eskom has constructed one small scale prototype windfarm at Klipheuwel in the Western Cape and another demonstrator site is near Darling with phase 1 completed. The first commercial wind farm, Coega Wind Farm in Port Elisabeth, was developed by the Belgian company Electrawinds.

Power plantProvinceDate
commissioned
Installed Capacity
(Megawatt)
StatusCoordinatesNotes
Coega Wind Farm Eastern Cape 20101.8 (45)Operational 33°45′16″S25°40′30″E / 33.75444°S 25.67500°E / -33.75444; 25.67500 (Coega Wind Farm) [91] [92]
Darling Wind Farm Western Cape 20085.2 (13.2)Operational 33°19′55″S18°14′38″E / 33.33195°S 18.24378°E / -33.33195; 18.24378 (Darling Wind Farm) [93] [94]
Klipheuwel Wind Farm  [ af ]Western Cape20023.16Operational
(Prototype/Research)
33°41′43″S18°43′30″E / 33.69539°S 18.72512°E / -33.69539; 18.72512 (Klipheuwel Wind Farm) [93] [95] [96]
Sere Wind Farm Western Cape2014100Operational 31°32′S18°17′E / 31.53°S 18.29°E / -31.53; 18.29 (Koekenaap facility) [97]
Gouda Wind Facility Western Cape2015138Operational 33°17′S19°03′E / 33.29°S 19.05°E / -33.29; 19.05 (Koekenaap facility) [98] [99]

United States

Brazos Wind Farm in the plains of West Texas GreenMountainWindFarm Fluvanna 2004.jpg
Brazos Wind Farm in the plains of West Texas

U.S. wind power installed capacity in 2012 exceeded 51,630 MW and supplies 3% of the nation's electricity. [100] [101]

New installations place the U.S. on a trajectory to generate 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030 from wind energy. [102] Growth in 2008 channeled some $17 billion into the economy, positioning wind power as one of the leading sources of new power generation in the country, along with natural gas. Wind projects completed in 2008 accounted for about 42% of the entire new power-producing capacity added in the U.S. during the year. [103]

At the end of 2008, about 85,000 people were employed in the U.S. wind industry, [104] and GE Energy was the largest domestic wind turbine manufacturer. [105] Wind projects boosted local tax bases and revitalized the economy of rural communities by providing a steady income stream to farmers with wind turbines on their land. [105] Wind power in the U.S. provides enough electricity to power the equivalent of nearly 9 million homes, avoiding the emissions of 57 million tons of carbon each year and reducing expected carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2.5%. [103]

Texas, with 10,929 MW of capacity, has the most installed wind power capacity of any U.S. state, followed by California with 4,570 MW and Iowa with 4,536 MW. [101] The Alta Wind Energy Center (1,020 MW) in California is the nation's largest wind farm in terms of capacity. [18] Altamont Pass Wind Farm is the largest wind farm in the U.S. in terms of the number of individual turbines. [106]

Criticism

Public perception is that renewable energies such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal are having a significant positive impact on global warming. [107] All of these sources combined only supplied 1.3% of global energy in 2013 as 8 billion tonnes of coal was burned annually. [108] [ needs update ]

One of the biggest[ citation needed ] factors inhibiting wind farm construction is human opposition. A study has shown [109] "turbine placement close to residents may heighten their uncertainty and concern of the wind turbines and overshadow any positive inclinations towards the development."

Wind farm development is affected by the emphasis being primarily placed on the domain of landscape assessment and environmental impact when seeking farm sites. The viability and efficiency of the wind farm are barely touched upon, instead falling to the developer. One report in 2013 suggested that perhaps in some places where wind energy was becoming politically popular, engineering aspects, specifically energy yield are not being taken into consideration, either by the public or in the process of planning consent for wind farm development. [110] As energy is the main purpose of wind farms, a lack of attention given to the subject could be detrimental to the general acceptance of wind farms.

Environmental impact

Livestock ignore wind turbines, and continue to graze as they did before wind turbines were installed. Wb deichh drei kuhs.jpg
Livestock ignore wind turbines, and continue to graze as they did before wind turbines were installed.

Compared to the environmental impact of traditional energy sources, the environmental impact of wind power is relatively minor. [112] Wind power consumes no fuel, and emits no air pollution, unlike fossil fuel power sources. The energy consumed to manufacture and transport the materials used to build a wind power plant is equal to the new energy produced by the plant within a few months. [112] While a wind farm may cover a large area of land, many land uses such as agriculture are compatible, with only small areas of turbine foundations and infrastructure made unavailable for use. [113]

There are reports of bird and bat mortality at wind turbines as there are around other artificial structures. The scale of the ecological impact may [114] or may not be significant, [115] depending on specific circumstances. The estimated number of bird deaths caused by wind turbines in the United States is between 140,000 and 328,000, whereas deaths caused by domestic cats in the United States are estimated to be between 1.3 and 4.0 billion birds each year and over 100 million birds are killed in the United States each year by impact with windows. [115] Prevention and mitigation of wildlife fatalities, and protection of peat bogs, affect the siting and operation of wind turbines. [116]

Human health

There have been multiple scientific, peer-reviewed studies into wind farm noise, which have concluded that infrasound from wind farms is not a hazard to human health and there is no verifiable evidence for 'Wind Turbine Syndrome' causing Vibroacoustic disease, although some suggest further research might still be useful. [117] [ dead link ] [118]

A 2007 report by the U.S. National Research Council noted that noise produced by wind turbines is generally not a major concern for humans beyond a half-mile or so. Low-frequency vibration and its effects on humans are not well understood and sensitivity to such vibration resulting from wind-turbine noise is highly variable among humans.[ citation needed ] There are opposing views on this subject, and more research needs to be done on the effects of low-frequency noise on humans. [119]

In a 2009 report about "Rural Wind Farms", a Standing Committee of the Parliament of New South Wales, Australia, recommended a minimum setback of two kilometres between wind turbines and neighbouring houses (which can be waived by the affected neighbour) as a precautionary approach. [120]

A 2014 paper suggests that the 'Wind Turbine Syndrome' is mainly caused by the nocebo effect and other psychological mechanisms. [115] [121] Australian science magazine Cosmos states that although the symptoms are real for those who suffer from the condition, doctors need to first eliminate known causes (such as pre-existing cancers or thyroid disease) before reaching definitive conclusions with the caveat that new technologies often bring new, previously unknown health risks. [122]

Effect on power grid

Utility-scale wind farms must have access to transmission lines to transport energy. The wind farm developer may be obliged to install extra equipment or control systems in the wind farm to meet the technical standards set by the operator of a transmission line. [123] The company or person that develops the wind farm can then sell the power on the grid through the transmission lines and ultimately chooses whether to hold on to the rights or sell the farm or parts of it to big business like GE, for example.[ citation needed ]

Ground radar interference

Wind farm interference (in yellow circle) on radar map NOAA windturbine-radar-interference.gif
Wind farm interference (in yellow circle) on radar map

Wind farms can interfere with ground radar systems used for military, weather and air traffic control. The large, rapidly moving blades of the turbines can return signals to the radar that can be mistaken as an aircraft or weather pattern. [124] Actual aircraft and weather patterns around wind farms can be accurately detected, as there is no fundamental physical constraint preventing that. But aging radar infrastructure is significantly challenged with the task. [125] [126] The US military is using wind turbines on some bases, including Barstow near the radar test facility. [127] [128]

Effects

The level of interference is a function of the signal processors used within the radar, the speed of the aircraft and the relative orientation of wind turbines/aircraft with respect to the radar. An aircraft flying above the wind farm's turning blades could become impossible to detect because the blade tips can be moving at nearly aircraft velocity. Studies are currently being performed to determine the level of this interference and will be used in future site planning. [129] Issues include masking (shadowing), clutter (noise), and signal alteration. [130] Radar issues have stalled as much as 10,000 MW of projects in USA. [131]

Some very long range radars are not affected by wind farms. [132]

Mitigation

Permanent problem solving include a non-initiation window to hide the turbines while still tracking aircraft over the wind farm, and a similar method mitigates the false returns. [133] England's Newcastle Airport is using a short-term mitigation; to "blank" the turbines on the radar map with a software patch. [134] Wind turbine blades using stealth technology are being developed to mitigate radar reflection problems for aviation. [135] [136] [137] [138] As well as stealth windfarms, the future development of infill radar systems could filter out the turbine interference.

A mobile radar system, the Lockheed Martin TPS-77, can distinguish between aircraft and wind turbines, and more than 170 TPS-77 radars are in use around the world. [139]

Radio reception interference

There are also reports of negative effects on radio and television reception in wind farm communities. Potential solutions include predictive interference modelling as a component of site selection. [140] [141] [142]

Wind turbines can often cause terrestrial television interference when the direct path between television transmitter and receiver is blocked by terrain. Interference effects become significant when the reflected signal from the turbine blades approaches the strength of the direct unreflected signal. Reflected signals from the turbine blades can cause loss of picture, pixellation and disrupted sound. There is a common misunderstanding that digital TV signals will not be affected by turbines — in practice they are.

Agriculture

A 2010 study found that in the immediate vicinity of wind farms, the climate is cooler during the day and slightly warmer during the night than the surrounding areas due to the turbulence generated by the blades. [143]

In another study an analysis carried out on corn and soybean crops in the central areas of the United States noted that the microclimate generated by wind turbines improves crops as it prevents the late spring and early autumn frosts, and also reduces the action of pathogenic fungi that grow on the leaves. Even at the height of summer heat, the lowering of 2.5–3 degrees above the crops due to turbulence caused by the blades, can make a difference for the cultivation of corn. [144]

See also

Related Research Articles

Wind power The conversion of wind energy into a useful form

Wind power is the use of air flow through wind turbines to provide the mechanical power to turn electric generators and traditionally to do other work, like milling or pumping. Wind power, as an alternative to burning fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation, consumes no water, and uses little land. The net effects on the environment are far less problematic than those of fossil fuel sources.

Wind power in the United Kingdom Use of wind turbines to generate electricity in the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is one of the best locations for wind power in the world and is considered to be the best in Europe. Wind power contributed 15% of UK electricity generation in 2017 and 18.5% in the final quarter of 2017. Onshore wind power has the lowest levelised cost per MWh of electricity generation technologies in the United Kingdom when a carbon cost is applied to generating technologies. In 2016, the UK generated more electricity from wind power than from coal.

London Array wind farm in the outer Thames Estuary in the United Kingdom

The London Array is a 175 turbine 630 MW Round 2 offshore wind farm located 20 km off the Kent coast in the outer Thames Estuary in the United Kingdom. It is the second largest offshore wind farm on Earth, after the Walney Extension.

Wind power in Spain

By year end 2015 Spain was the world's fifth biggest producer of wind power with 23,031 MW installed capacity, providing 48,118 GWh of power and 19% of the country's total electricity production in that year. In 2014, a record breaking year for renewable electricity production, wind power accounted for 20.2% of total electricity generation in Spain making it the second most important electricity source after nuclear power (22%) and ahead of coal power (16.5%). In earlier periods wind energy covered 16% of the demand in 2010, 13.8% in 2009 and 11.5% in 2008.

Wind power in the European Union

As of December 2017, installed capacity of wind power in the European Union totaled 169.3 gigawatts (GW). In 2017, a total of 15,680 MW of wind power was installed, representing 55% of all new power capacity, and the wind power generated 336 TWh of electricity, enough to supply 11.6% of the EU's electricity consumption.

Wind power in the United States

Wind power in the United States is a branch of the energy industry that has expanded quickly over the latest several years. For the twelve months through November 2017, 254.2 terawatt-hours were generated by wind power, or 6.33% of all generated electrical energy.

Wind power in California

Wind power has a long history in the state of California, with the initiative and early development occurring during Governor Jerry Brown's first two terms in the late 1970s and early 1980s. California's wind power capacity has grown by nearly 350% since 2001, when it was less than 1,700 MW. In 2016, wind energy now supplies about 6.9% of California's total electricity needs, or enough to power more than 1.3 million households. Most of California's wind generation is found in the Tehachapi area of Kern County, California, with some big projects in Solano, Contra Costa and Riverside counties as well. California is among the states with the largest amount of installed wind power capacity. In recent years, California has lagged behind other states when it comes to the installation of wind power. It was ranked 4th overall for wind power electrical generation at the end of 2016 behind Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma. As of December 31, 2016, California had 5,662 megawatts (MW) of wind powered electricity generating capacity.

Thorntonbank Wind Farm Belgian offshore wind farm in the North Sea

The Thorntonbank Wind Farm is an offshore wind farm, 30 km (19 mi) off the Belgian coast, in water ranging from 12 to 27 metres deep. Electricity production started in early 2009, with a capacity of 30 MW. The capacity is expected to be increased gradually to 300 MW in 2015.

Wind power in China

China is the world leader in wind power generation, with the largest installed capacity of any nation and continued rapid growth in new wind facilities. With its large land mass and long coastline, China has exceptional wind power resources: it is estimated China has about 2,380 gigawatts (GW) of exploitable capacity on land and 200 GW on the sea.

Wind power in Oregon

The U.S. state of Oregon has large wind energy resources. Many projects have been completed, most of them in rural Eastern Oregon and near the Columbia River Gorge. Wind power accounted for 12.1% of the electricity generated in Oregon in 2016.

Floating wind turbine offshore wind turbine mounted on a floating structure

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Kentish Flats Offshore Wind Farm

The Kentish Flats Offshore Wind Farm is a wind farm located off the coast of Kent, England on a large, flat and shallow plateau just outside the main Thames shipping lanes. The wind farm is operated by Vattenfall.

Offshore wind power use of wind turbines constructed in marine bodies of water to harvest wind energy to generate electricity

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Wind power in Belgium

Wind power in Belgium depends partially on regional governments and partially on the Belgian federal government. Wind energy producers in both the Flemish and Walloon regions get green certificates but not with the same conditions.

Lincs Wind Farm

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Wind power in Indiana

Wind power in Indiana was limited to a few small water-pumping windmills on farms until 2008 with construction of Indiana's first utility-scale wind power facility, Goodland with a nameplate capacity of 130 MW. As of September 2017, Indiana had a total of 1897 MW of wind power capacity installed, ranking it 12th among U.S. states. Wind power was responsible for 4.8% of in-state electricity production in 2016.

Dudgeon Offshore Wind Farm is an offshore wind farm 32 km north of Cromer off the coast of Norfolk, in the North Sea, England. It is owned by Dudgeon Offshore Wind Limited (DOW), a subsidiary of Equinor, Masdar and Statkraft. The site is a relatively flat area of seabed between the Cromer Knoll and Inner Cromer Knoll sandbanks and is one of the furthest offshore sites around the UK.

Renewable energy in Taiwan

Renewable energy in Taiwan contributed to 8.7% of national electricity generation as of end of 2013. The total installed capacity of renewable energy in Taiwan by the end of 2013 was 3.76 GW.

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Further reading