Introduction to Wind Farm Design
There are many geographical, logistical and environmental factors that need to be considered while setting up a wind farm. The first factor of consideration is the weather and average wind availability and speeds throughout the year. There are different ranges of wind speeds that are applicable for different sizes of turbines.
After a location has been chosen for wind energy project the next step involves designing the facility. The main goal is to optimize energy production with minimum costs of establishment and operation. The wind farm should also be compliant with the local regulations and constraints. Some of the key points of consideration during the designing of the farm are mentioned below.
- The maximum capacity of generation must be pre-decided. This has an impact on the logistics, capital costs and grid connectivity. There are also regulations on power generation from renewable energy sources.
- Distances from key points such as roads, domestic facilities and other private properties.
- Proximity to areas sensitive to noise emissions and shadow flickering. Shadow flickering is an issue unique to wind turbines. It happens when the sun is directly behind the rotor blades and the light is repeatedly cut and interrupted due to the windmill’s operation.
- The minimum distance between each wind turbine as specified by the manufacturer. This is also affected by local wind speeds and wind turbulence in the area.
- Interruption to signal towers and microwave pathways. Windmills which come in the way of cellphone towers and other signaling posts can cause interruptions in transmission and communication.
After the above-mentioned concerns have been satisfied, one can go ahead with the designing of the facilities. The size of the wind farm is decided and a basic outline is produced. A typical capacity of wind farm lies in the range of 12 MW per sq-km of area. The turbine capacities are also a factor as the projected capacities can be met with a variety of different turbines. This decides the area covered and the number of turbines required. The allocated budget and given area are the deciding factors in selecting wind turbines. The specific selection of turbines can be left for the later stages of the designing phase and one can move ahead with a generic turbine capacity with a fixed rotor diameter and tower height.
If the wind availability does not meet the required capacities then this might call for the inclusion of additional anemometry devices after proper wind speed mappings. After the preliminary layout has been created, it is then worked upon to decide upon the exact location of each and every wind turbine. The positioning of wind turbines has certain key factors that need to be considered.
- The first and most important factor is that of optimizing energy generation. The position and orientation of wind turbines must leverage the wind speeds and direction to ensure maximum energy generation with minimum clogging torque.
- Since wind towers are extremely tall structures, they are visible for miles around. Hence visual effect is an important parameter while setting up wind turbines.
- Lastly, noise generation and turbine load capacities are considered before erecting wind towers.