It is well known that large amounts of wind energy are not effectively harvested in large wind farms because the turbines “shadow” each other and reduce the output of the turbines located in their wake. The wakes also produce increased turbulence and uneven loading on the shadowed turbines, increasing fatigue issues that eventually affect a wind farm’s longevity and reliability.
The Department of Energy’s Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) facility was commissioned in 2013 in order to provide an experimental site with research-scale wind turbines for studying wind-turbine wakes and turbine–turbine interactions at a realistic scale. The SWiFT site is managed and operated by Sandia National Laboratories for the DOE Wind Program.
Wakes produced from upstream turbines in wind plants lead to lower power production and increased loads on downstream turbines. The resulting loss of energy capture and increase in maintenance costs represent one of the largest opportunities to reduce cost of energy (COE) at the plant level. Improvements in wind-turbine design and plant layout to realize plant-scale COE reductions will require computational simulation and design tools with improved accuracy validated with experimental data.
To establish a baseline with the Texas Tech University (TTU) [Ka-band (link1)] Doppler radar, unique and novel wind farm flow mapping has been performed in either full- or semi-precipitating environments. Preliminary results to date have opened insight to full utility-scale wind-farm performance that have never been seen in any other data set, measured or modeled.