Engineers can help boost power output among existing wind power plants by modeling the current conditions of the entire farm instead of the individual wind turbines.
Generally, wind turbines are controlled individually as stand-alone units. The wind power industry produces over 5 percent of worldwide electricity. Large wind farms come with dozens to hundreds of wind turbines.
Now, the engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and many others, have discovered that even with no new equipment, wind farm installations’ energy output can be improved by modeling the relevant wind flow of the turbines’ entire collection process. This is also possible through the optimization of each unit’s control.
Although the increase in wind energy output may seem modest, it is around 1.2 percent in total and 3 percent in excellent wind speeds, this algorithm is suitable for deployment at all wind farms. Given that wind farms are continuously increasing on a global scale, the increased energy output is undeniably significant overall.
If the 1.2% energy output increase is implemented in all of the wind farms in the world, the energy output would be the equivalent of the addition of around 3,600 new turbines and it would be enough to power around 3 million households. In addition, it would also increase the income of power producers to almost 1 billion dollars every year according to the researchers. All of these mind-blowing advantages are achievable at no cost.
The research is published in the Nature Energy journal in a study by MIT’s Esther, Harold Edgerton, and Michael Howland.
According to Howland, all of the existing wind turbines are being controlled independently and greedily. He explained that he used the term “greedily” because these turbines are controlled with the sole purpose of maximizing only their individual power production capacity as if they are stand-alone units with no probable impacts on other turbines around them.
However, wind turbines are installed relatively close to each other in most wind farms in order to maximize land use and to provide space for other relevant infrastructures such as transmission lines and access roads. Having close proximity often results in turbines being affected by the strong turbulent wakes that other turbines produce. This is a factor that existing turbine control systems don’t have a solution for yet.
This research offers a long-term solution to this issue. The researchers have designed a flow model that can predict the energy production of every turbine in a wind farm based on the atmosphere’s incident winds and the control tactics of each turbine.