Wind Farms

A wind farm or wind park is a collection of wind turbines. The areal extent of the wind farm depends on the radius R of the rotor blades (Figure 5-3). A wind turbine must have enough space around the post to allow the fan of the rotor blade to face in any direction. The minimum spacing between the posts of two equivalent wind turbines must be 2Reff to avoid collisions between rotor blades. If we consider the aerodynamics of wind flow, which is the factor that controls turbine spacing, the turbine spacing in a wind farm increases to at least 5 to 10 times rotor diameter 2 R [Sorensen, 2000, page 435] behind the plane of the rotor blade. The additional distance between posts is designed to minimize turbulence between wind turbines and enable the restoration of the wind stream to its original undisturbed state after it passes by one turbine on its way to the next turbine. Wind turbine spacing is an important factor in determining the surface area, or footprint, needed by a wind farm.

Figure 5-3. Wind Turbine Spacing

Environmental Impact

Wind energy is a renewable energy that is considered a clean energy because it has a minimal impact on the environment compared to other forms of energy. Wind turbines provide electrical energy without emitting greenhouse gases. On the other hand, we have already observed that the harvesting of wind energy by wind turbines can have environmental consequences.

Rotating wind turbine blades can kill birds and interfere with migration patterns. Wind turbines with slowly rotating, large diameter blades and judicious placement of wind turbines away from migration patterns can reduce the risk to birds. Wind farms can have a significant visual impact that may be distasteful to some people. Wind turbines produce some noise when they operate. In the past, wind turbines with metal blades could interfere with television and radio signals. Today, turbine blades are made out of composite materials that do not interfere with electromagnetic transmissions.

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