A new study by the University of Texas at San Antonio found that placing wind turbines too closely together in a wind farm causes turbulence that reduces productivity according to a recent article by StateImpact Texas.
The study was conducted by mechanical engineering professor Kiran Bhaganagar. She found in some cases turbines can lose up to 90 percent of the power they are capable of producing.
On any given wind farm, Bhaganagar says, turbulent wind gains momentum and has an increasingly negative impact as it moves down the line of turbines.
“The first one will give you maybe one hundred percent of the predicted power,” she says. “The second one is maybe giving 60 percent of the power, and as you go on, you might have turbines that are giving less than 10 percent of the power.”
Bhaganagar says once the wind energy industry incorporates her research to engineer wind farms, companies will begin to see profits rise. Another study from Texas Tech also shows that energy companies miss out on revenue from turbine underperformance.
Texas leads the nation in wind energy production. Wind power was 12.1 percent of Texas’ electricity in April 2010. The wind in West Texas travels at a constant speed of 17 mph.
The next phase of Bhaganagar’s research will look at how the turbines could be arranged to reduce turbulence.