I had the same question--will the use of wind turbines get to a scale where what they are doing interferes with, or at least somehow affects, larger-scale wind patterns, i.e., climate. I suspect this has already been at least considered, if not studied yet.
For sure, there are not that many in use to cause a major change in the climate, but the use of the word ""yet" implies there could be.
For sure, setting up a windmill directly in front of another windmill would be foolish, as the energy removed by the first unit will never reach the second. That said, what affect will removing <enter the energy amount of your choice here> have on the climate long term? I posed the question only as it is an unknown to consider as we search for alternative sources to meet the ever-growing power needs of society.
Louis, I would find it tough to believe that we've got enough wind turbines on the planet yet to have an affect on climate, which is macro-scale, although it's an interesting question whether they might have an effect on weather, which is a local phenomenon.
At what point does the loss of mass in the blades and thus the loss of the flywheel effect begin to outweigh the benefits of lighter blades that start to spin faster in lighter wind, but stop sooner with the loss of wind? As to the birds, that is a good point, however, I was more interested in the affect on the climate when wind patterns are altered.I know that darn butterfly that flapped his wings in China last year caused us to have an unusually warm summer. >mild attempt at humor<
Thanks, Al, for that info about independent pitch control for responding to gusts faster and handling them better. And Aldo, thanks for the input about using genetic algorithm programming techniques for increasing efficiency.
As a side note, I was watching an episode of Terra Nova last week and suddenly noticed that the wind turbines they depicted as right inside the village were insanely small and incapable of providing the power they need, even when combined with solar panels. Of course, they would have had to put large enough turbines way outside the village, where they'd presumably get destroyed by marauding dinos.
Good points, Kenish. It will be interesting to see whether power costs increase. I would imagine conservation over the past few years must be having some impact. However, if EVs and Hybrids become plentiful, there will be more draw on the grid.
There's a huge wind farm near Palm Springs. It's interesting that 20+ years ago there were 10-12 distinctly different turbine designs. Nowadays about the only design in use is the 3-bladed turbine on a monopole mast. Only the size varies.
My understanding is turbines are often deliberately "parked". At low speeds the revenue from the power does not make up for the per-hour operating costs (wear and tear, maintenance, etc). I'm sure the windspeed threshold will decrease as the turbines become more reliable and/or power costs per kWh increase. (Southern California has very high electricity rates but also a surprising amount of wind power thanks to our topography).
Yep, Beth, that makes sense to use that technology to get the blades to follow the wind. It seems a natural direction to go in developing wind turbines. In a decade or two, our current wind tools may look quite primitive. We're probably only getting 10 or 15 percent of the possible energy from our current turbines.
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This year, Design News is getting a head start on the Fourth of July celebration. In honor of our country and its legacy of engineering innovation -- in all of its forms -- we are taking you on an alphabetical tour through all 50 states to showcase interesting engineering breakthroughs and historically significant events.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.