Collective effects of large scale wind energy

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Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Amanda S. Adams, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC; and D. W. Keith

Estimates of global wind energy production assume that from a good estimate of wind speeds at hub height we can obtain a good estimate of wind energy potential. However, as wind energy grows it becomes important to look at the collective effects of large scale wind energy production. The spacing of wind turbines used to optimize electricity generation within a single wind farm is not necessarily the same spacing required to optimize generation on a larger scale. Additionally, the spacing of wind turbines which minimizes environmental impacts to weather and climate may be different than that needed to optimize electricity generation. Through use of a wind farm parameterization implemented in WRF-ARW, we have run simulations to examine the collective effects of large scale wind energy production in hopes of better quantifying global wind energy potential. Results suggest that wind energy turbines can extract on average only 1-1.2 wm-2 from the atmosphere, which is less than that assumed by most global estimates of wind energy potential. The environmental impact of large scale wind energy production to meteorological fields such as temperature, moisture, precipitation, etc will also be discussed, as the climate impacts may limit wind energy production more than the physical limit on what can be extracted from the atmosphere.