Wind Turbine Placement – Where To Put Them?
#3 Today we are considering how windfarm companies determine where to place the individual turbines inside the windfarm. Generally speaking, they put them in windy spots, which typically means high ground and not low ground, land that it’s in the open and unobstructed from anything that would keep the wind from hitting it strongly. In a perfect world, the windfarm company would layout the windfarm in a grid. They would be placed in rows that are perpendicular to the dominant wind, for example, if the wind were out of the south, then the rows would run east to west.
The distances I mention here are very general because there are many variables that go into determining the spacing of turbines, such as the size of the turbine, the lay of the land with its contours & geography. All these play into this determination but generally speaking turbines are about 1000 feet apart, give or take several hundred feet. Then they will go back about a mile or so, again give or take, and put another row of turbines, then another row of turbines, and so on. Keep in mind that the larger the turbine, the greater the spacing must be between the turbines. This allows room for the wind to reorganize itself after going through a turbine before it hits the next turbine. If they are too close together, they become less efficient. Now, there are other factors that play into this as well, there are setbacks from houses, from roads, from pipelines, from transmission lines, etc. Turbines are not placed inside pivot irrigation systems; wind companies certainly don’t want to interfere with the farming. They look essentially for places they cannot place turbines and this knowledge helps them determine where they can and ultimately do place the turbine.
Other factors that help determine the turbine placement is the information that has been learned from all of the studies that were done. Whether it is an aviation study or environmental study, certain locations might need to be eliminated due to a threatened/endangered plant or animal or perhaps a turbine’s potential interference with a radar or airport. Wind companies take much into consideration as they design the project so that it generates the most amount of electricity while causing the least impact possible. And that is generally the process.
Windfarms can't be placed just anywhere, so if you have the opportunity to participate in one with your property, you should seriously consider it. You'll be glad you did.
Note: In less than two years after making this video and blog, which was early 2018, I was involved in a project with much bigger turbines that totally blew away the numbers I mentioned here. The logic is the same but the spacing is much bigger. Remember, the bigger the turbine, the greater the spacing must be.