Near-ground effects of wind turbines: Observations and physical mechanisms

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  • 1 Center for Research in Wind (CReW), University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA
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Abstract

Wind turbines generate wakes, which can potentially influence the local microclimate near the ground. To verify and quantify such effects, the VERTical Enhanced miXing (VERTEX) field campaign was conducted in late summer 2016 to measure near-surface turbulent fluxes, wind speed, temperature and moisture under and outside of the wake of an operational wind turbine in Lewes, Delaware. We found that, in the presence of turbine wakes from a single wind turbine, friction velocity, turbulent kinetic energy, and wind speed were reduced near the ground under the wake, while turbulent heat flux were not significantly affected by the wake. The observed near-ground temperature changes were <0.18 °C in magnitude. Near-ground temperature changes due to the wake correlated well with the temperature lapse rate between hub height and the ground, with warming observed during stable and neutral conditions and cooling during unstable conditions. Of the two properties that define a wake, i.e. wind speed deficit and turbulence, the wind speed deficit dominates the surface response, while the wake turbulence remains aloft and hardly ever reaches the ground. We propose that the mechanism that drives changes in near-ground temperature in the presence of turbine wakes is the vertical convergence of turbulent heat flux below hub height. Above hub height, turbulence and turbulent heat flux are enhanced; near the ground, turbulence is reduced and turbulent heat flux is unchanged. These conditions cause an increase (during stable/neutral stability) or decrease (during unstable stability) in heat flux convergence, ultimately resulting in warming or cooling near the ground, respectively.

Corresponding author address: Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory (ISELab), University of Delaware, 221 Academy St, Newark, DE 19716, USA. E-mail: carcher@udel.edu

Abstract

Wind turbines generate wakes, which can potentially influence the local microclimate near the ground. To verify and quantify such effects, the VERTical Enhanced miXing (VERTEX) field campaign was conducted in late summer 2016 to measure near-surface turbulent fluxes, wind speed, temperature and moisture under and outside of the wake of an operational wind turbine in Lewes, Delaware. We found that, in the presence of turbine wakes from a single wind turbine, friction velocity, turbulent kinetic energy, and wind speed were reduced near the ground under the wake, while turbulent heat flux were not significantly affected by the wake. The observed near-ground temperature changes were <0.18 °C in magnitude. Near-ground temperature changes due to the wake correlated well with the temperature lapse rate between hub height and the ground, with warming observed during stable and neutral conditions and cooling during unstable conditions. Of the two properties that define a wake, i.e. wind speed deficit and turbulence, the wind speed deficit dominates the surface response, while the wake turbulence remains aloft and hardly ever reaches the ground. We propose that the mechanism that drives changes in near-ground temperature in the presence of turbine wakes is the vertical convergence of turbulent heat flux below hub height. Above hub height, turbulence and turbulent heat flux are enhanced; near the ground, turbulence is reduced and turbulent heat flux is unchanged. These conditions cause an increase (during stable/neutral stability) or decrease (during unstable stability) in heat flux convergence, ultimately resulting in warming or cooling near the ground, respectively.

Corresponding author address: Integrated Science and Engineering Laboratory (ISELab), University of Delaware, 221 Academy St, Newark, DE 19716, USA. E-mail: carcher@udel.edu
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