A wind farm 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.
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 has a capacity of over 6,000 MW as of 2012, 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.
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.
- 1 Design and location
- 2 Onshore installations
- 3 Offshore installations
- 4 Experimental and proposed wind farms
- 5 By region
- 6 Criticism
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Design and location
As a general rule, economic wind generators require windspeed of 4.5 m/s (16 km/h) or greater. An ideal location would have a near constant flow of non-turbulent wind throughout the year, with a minimum likelihood of sudden powerful bursts of wind. An important factor of turbine siting is the amount of access to local demand or transmission capacity.
Usually sites are screened on the basis of a wind atlas, and validated with wind measurements. 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 in order to finance the project. Local winds are often monitored for a year or more, and detailed wind maps are constructed before wind generators are installed.
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.
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.
|Gansu Wind Farm||6,800||China|||
|Urat Zhongqi, Bayannur City||2,100||China|||
|Hami Wind Farm||2,000||China|||
|Damao Qi, Baotou City||1,600||China|||
|Alta (Oak Creek-Mojave)||1,320||United States|||
|Jaisalmer Wind Park||1,064||India|||
|Hongshagang, Town, Minqin County||1,000||China|||
|Buffalo Gap Wind Farm||523.3||United States|||
|Capricorn Ridge Wind Farm||662.5||United States|||
|Dabancheng Wind Farm||500||China|||
|Fântânele-Cogealac Wind Farm||600||Romania|||
|Fowler Ridge Wind Farm||599.8||United States|||
|Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center||735.5||United States|||
|Meadow Lake Wind Farm||500||United States|||
|Panther Creek Wind Farm||458||United States|||
|Roscoe Wind Farm||781.5||United States|||
|Shepherds Flat Wind Farm||845||United States|
|Sweetwater Wind Farm||585.3||United States|||
|Whitelee Wind Farm||539||Scotland, U.K|
Onshore turbine installations in hilly or mountainous regions tend to be on ridgelines 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'.
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.
|Country||Turbines & model||Commissioned||Refs|
|Walney||659||United Kingdom||102 × 3.6 MW, 47 x Siemens Gamesa 7 MW, 40 x MHI Vestas V164 8.25Mw||2012|||
|London Array||630||United Kingdom||175 × Siemens SWT-3.6||2013|||
|Gemini Wind Farm||600||Netherlands||150 × Siemens SWT-4.0||2017|||
|Greater Gabbard wind farm||504||United Kingdom||140 × Siemens SWT-3.6||2012|||
|Anholt||400||Denmark||111 × Siemens 3.6-120||2013|||
|BARD Offshore 1||400||Germany||80 × BARD 5.0||2013|||
|Rampion Wind Farm||400||United Kingdom||116 x Vestas V112-3.45MW||2018|||
|Thorntonbank||325||Belgium||6 × REpower 5MW and
48 × REpower 6.15MW
|Sheringham Shoal||315||United Kingdom||88 × Siemens 3.6-107||2012|||
|Thanet||300||United Kingdom||100 × Vestas V90-3MW||2010|||
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.
The province of Ontario in Canada is pursuing several proposed locations in the Great Lakes, including the suspended Trillium Power Wind 1 approximately 20 km from shore and over 400 MW in size. Other Canadian projects include one on the Pacific west coast.
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; 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[update], there are 20 jackup vessels for lifting components, but few can lift sizes above 5MW. Service vessels have to be operated nearly 24/7 (availability higher than 80% of time) to get sufficient amortisation from the wind turbines. 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
There exist also some wind farms which were mainly built for testing wind turbines. In such wind farms, there is usually from each type to be tested only a single wind turbine. Such farms have usually at least one meteorological tower. An example of an experimental wind farm is Østerild Wind Turbine Test Field.
For some time, airborne wind farms have been discussed. An airborne wind farm is a group of airborne wind energy systems near to each other, connected to the grid in the same point.
|Wind farm||Installed capacity
|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|
|Waubra Wind Farm||192||Acciona Energy & ANZ Infrastructure Services||Victoria|
|Woolnorth Wind Farm||140||Roaring 40s & Hydro Tasmania||Tasmania|
|Anse-à-Valleau Wind Farm||100||Gaspé||Quebec|
|Caribou Wind Park||99||70 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||101||Chatham-Kent||Ontario|
|Prince Township Wind Farm||189||Sault Ste. Marie||Ontario|
|St. Joseph Wind Farm||138||Montcalm||Manitoba|
|St. Leon Wind Farm||99||St. Leon||Manitoba|
|Wolfe Island Wind Project||197||Frontenac Islands||Ontario|
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. However, the rapid growth outpaced China's infrastructure and new construction slowed significantly in 2012.
At the end of 2009, wind power in China accounted for 25.1 gigawatts (GW) of electricity generating capacity, and China has identified wind power as a key growth component of the country's economy. With its large land mass and long coastline, China has exceptional wind resources. Researchers from Harvard and Tsinghua University have found that China could meet all of their electricity demands from wind power by 2030.
By the end of 2008, at least 15 Chinese companies were commercially producing wind turbines and several dozen more were producing components. Turbine sizes of 1.5 MW to 3 MW became common. Leading wind power companies in China were Goldwind, Dongfang Electric, and Sinovel along with most major foreign wind turbine manufacturers. 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.
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.
This article needs to be updated.(June 2012)
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. By January 2014, the UK installed capacity was 10,495 MW. 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.
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, 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 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. 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 has the fifth largest installed wind power capacity in the world. As of 31 March 2014, the installed capacity of wind power was 21136.3 MW mainly spread across Tamil Nadu state (7253 MW). Wind power accounts nearly 8.5% of India's total installed power generation capacity, and it generates 1.6% of the country's power.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
This article needs to be updated.(May 2014)
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. 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.
|Coega Wind Farm||Eastern Cape||2010||1.8 (45)||Operational|||
|Darling Wind Farm||Western Cape||2008||5.2 (13.2)||Operational|||
|Klipheuwel Wind Farm||Western Cape||2002||3.16||Operational
|Sere Wind Farm||Western Cape||2014||100||Operational|||
|Gouda Wind Facility||Western Cape||2015||138||Operational|||
New installations place the U.S. on a trajectory to generate 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030 from wind energy. 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.
At the end of 2008, about 85,000 people were employed in the U.S. wind industry, and GE Energy was the largest domestic wind turbine manufacturer. 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. 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%.
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. The Alta Wind Energy Center (1,020 MW) in California is the nation's largest wind farm in terms of capacity. Altamont Pass Wind Farm is the largest wind farm in the U.S. in terms of the number of individual turbines.
Public perception is that renewable energies such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal are having a significant positive impact on global warming. All of these sources combined only supplied 1.3% of global energy in 2013 as 8 billion tonnes of coal was burned annually.
One of the biggest factors inhibiting wind farm construction is human opposition. A study has shown "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. For example, Sturge et al. of the University of Sheffield wrote that in many countries where wind energy is becoming 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. 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.
Compared to the environmental impact of traditional energy sources, the environmental impact of wind power is relatively minor. 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. 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.
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 or may not be significant, 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. Prevention and mitigation of wildlife fatalities, and protection of peat bogs, affect the siting and operation of wind turbines.
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.
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. There are opposing views on this subject, and more research needs to be done on the effects of low-frequency noise on humans.
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.
A 2014 paper suggests that the 'Wind Turbine Syndrome' is mainly caused by the nocebo effect and other psychological mechanisms. 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.
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. 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.
Ground radar interference
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. 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. The US military is using wind turbines on some bases, including Barstow near the radar test facility.
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. Issues include masking (shadowing), clutter (noise), and signal alteration. Radar issues have stalled as much as 10,000 MW of projects in USA.
Some very long range radars are not affected by wind farms.
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. England's Newcastle Airport is using a short-term mitigation; to "blank" the turbines on the radar map with a software patch. Wind turbine blades using stealth technology are being developed to mitigate radar reflection problems for aviation. As well as stealth windfarms, the future development of infill radar systems could filter out the turbine interference.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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