Efficient Turbine Spacing Boosts Offshore Wind Farm Output 33%

by Silvio Marcacci

Offshore wind farm in China Sea image via Shutterstock
Offshore wind farm in China Sea Image via Shutterstock. Image for illustrative purposes only.

Offshore wind farms already face one of the most inhospitable environments for renewable energy – we know salt water, storms, and waves can combine to reduce output, but are inefficient turbine layouts also sapping generation?

New research from the University of Delaware suggests the existing tight grid layouts of offshore wind farms reduces wind farm power generation, but that efficiently spacing or staggering turbines significantly increases their capacity factor.

These new findings join a host of other exiting research projects exploring how turbine placement affects wind power performance, and could help engineers build offshore wind farms more efficiently to help wring as many megawatts out of each turbine and dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible.

Offshore Wind Not Always Living Up To Its Potential

The team of researchers at University of Delaware’s (UD) Atmosphere and Energy Research Group based their studies on Sweden’s Lilligrund offshore wind farm. The project has a total installed capacity of 110.4 megawatts (MW), but has only produced power at a 35% capacity factor (as of 2012) – and its tightly packed rows could be the reason it performs below offshore wind’s median 43% capacity factor.

After setting their baseline, the researchers created six alternative wind farm layouts in computer simulations. Some layouts kept turbines in consistent rows spaced further apart while others staggered turbine row alignments similar to how theater seats are spaced to improve seat views as they move further back.

The computer simulations took weeks to run and focused on how the eddies, or choppy air produced by each turbine spinning, affected the output of downwind turbines in the farm.

Efficient Turbine Spacing Boosted Output 33%

So what did the simulations find? “Staggering every other row was amazingly efficient,” said Cristina Archer, associate professor at UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. Spacing turbines farther apart and staggering rows decreased output losses from eddies 14% and improved overall performance by 33%

These results mirror onshore wind farm research being conducted at Texas Tech’s SWiFT facility, which found inefficient turbine spacing reduced power output of interior wind farm rows up to 40%

SWiFT wind farm research center
SWiFT wind farm research center graphic via Sandia National Laboratories.

The team also found the most optimal offshore wind farm configuration had turbine rows oriented to face prevailing wind directions. However, prevailing winds change direction at most locations throughout the year, meaning turbines may need to adjust slightly on a seasonal basis to realize their highest potential output.

While that’s not technologically feasible today, knowing when turbines will be most productive could inform where and how to build future offshore wind farms. “We want to explore all these trade-offs systematically, one by one” said Archer, whose previous research found wind could meet half the world’s power demand by 2030.

Applying Lessons Learned To Future Projects

As offshore wind energy farms start sprouting up along the US East Coast, project developers have an incredible opportunity to apply lessons learned from Europe’s existing offshore wind industry.

Eight different projects totaling 2,380MW are currently under development in US waters, and higher output means these projects could become more financially viable for developers and utilities.

Offshore wind has an incredible clean tech investment outlook, with some analysts predicting an annual market value of €130 billion by 2020. With time, research like this could not only make offshore wind more productive, but help the market reach its full potential. “I’m hoping these will be tools for giving a general overview of wind at the global scale,” said Archer.

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This article, Efficient Turbine Spacing Boosts Offshore Wind Farm Output 33%, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

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US President Barack Obama, center, and Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt hold a press conference at Rosenbad, the seat of the Swedish government in Stockholm, Sweden, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013.<br />CREDIT: (Credit: AP/Frank Augstein)

Obama Names Sweden A Model For Energy Policy — Here’s Why

Swedish Women’s Cooperative Invests In Wind Energy

by Important Media Cross-Post

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Originally published on Inspired Economist.
By Derek Markham.

In a world full of sole proprietorships, corporations, and LLCs, it’s helpful to remember that there are other viable business models that can also succeed, such as cooperatives, which can come in flavors as diverse as farm equipment co-ops, credit unions, or cooperative housing.

In many parts of the US, food cooperatives are probably the most widely known example of a co-op (a consumer co-op), and in fact the word co-op is often wrongly used to refer to any type of “natural foods market”. But a cooperative can be set up for any purpose, with worker co-ops and producer co-ops being two other common purposes, and the structure allows for a more transparent and equitable organization than a traditional “business” structure.

So when a Swedish woman wanted to invest in a nearby wind farm, but didn’t have enough money to make the minimum investment all by herself, she figured out a better way to do that, by joining forces with nine other women and forming a wind energy investment cooperative.

The cooperative born from the initial idea by Wanja Wallemyr is called Qvinnovindar, and the co-op not only helps to support renewable energy, but to also empower women and others living in rural areas.

From Grist:

“The name combines the Swedish words for wind and women. The group bought a share of the three-turbine project near Wallemyr’s farm in 2007. Since then they’ve grown to 80 members and invested more than 10 million Krona ($1.5 million) in other projects, including a portion of a five-turbine installation built on Wallemyr’s farm.

Qvinnovindar members individually invested anywhere from 500 to 300,000 Krona ($77-46,000) each, giving them an equal vote in how the company is run, regardless of the amount they put in. Members come from diverse lines of work: a farmer, a florist, a dentist, a bookkeeper, a consultant, and a retail clerk, among other professions.”

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This article, Swedish Women’s Cooperative Invests In Wind Energy, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Important Media Cross-PostCleanTechnica is one of 18 blogs in the Important Media blog network. With a bit of overlap in coverage, we sometimes repost some of the great content published by our sister sites.

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US President Barack Obama, center, and Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt hold a press conference at Rosenbad, the seat of the Swedish government in Stockholm, Sweden, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013.<br />CREDIT: (Credit: AP/Frank Augstein)

Obama Names Sweden A Model For Energy Policy — Here’s Why

New Saab Production Begins and Saab EV’s for 2015

by Jo Borrás

Fans of quirky Swedish design have a lot to celebrate this week, as Saab has rises from the ashes of GM’s bankruptcy and begun production of its 9-3 sedan once again!

The first new Saabs began rolling off the company’s Trollhätten assembly line last week, and news of progress on the company’s EV front came over the weekend. You can read about both news items, below, in articles that originally appeared on our sister site, Gas 2.

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Source | Photos: Saab, via Inside EVs

New Saab Begins Production

After years of rumors and speculations of the will they/won’t they variety, a brand-new Saab 9-3 has – finally! – managed to roll down the assembly line! Don’t be fooled by the fact that this new Saab looks just like the 2009 models the company was building when it was spun off from GM’s bankruptcy, however. This car features all-new components designed by Saab engineers and manufactured in Trollhättan, Sweden.

Saab re-starts production
Source | Photos: Saab, via Inside EVs

Saab, now owned by the National Electric Vehicle Sweden company, promised its new cars would reach production in 18 months. That was in September of 2012, so they’re about 6 month ahead of schedule. That on-track message puts NEVS-owned Saab in a decidedly different league than faux car-makers like Detroit Electric and Elio Motors, who’ve spent more time justifying delays than they have building cars.

Saab’s back, baby! All we need now is a new Saab 900 revival and we’ll really be in business!

The first new Saab of the NEVS era rolled off the company’s Trollhätten assembly line in Sweden last week, getting the ball rolling on one of the biggest post-bailout era automotive success stories. Inside EVs is reporting that these first new-era Saabs, which are gasoline-powered and not the upcoming “Saab ePower” electric model, are being built for sale to government agencies in China and to get any bugs in the new assembly process “worked out” before commercial sales of the EVs restart.

Meanwhile, the core of the new Saab ePower line – the NEVS lithium-ion phosphorus cell battery packs – are reportedly wrapping up development in Japan and are on-track for delivery to Saab’s Swedish assembly line sometime early next year, in time for NEVS and Saab to start putting electric 9-3s and, hopefully, 9-5s on the road in time for the 2015 model year.

We’ll have more updates on the new Saab ePower 9-3′s production timeline, and whether or not Saab will pull the trigger on electric/hybrid concepts like the Saab Phoenix coupe or a new Saab 900 Phoenix model, in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned!

This article, New Saab Production Begins, EVs Coming Next Year, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Jo Borrás I’ve been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

Obama Names Sweden A Model For Energy Policy and Here’s Why

by Important Media Cross-Post

US President Barack Obama and Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt hold a press conference at Rosenbad, the seat of the Swedish government in Stockholm, Sweden, Sept. 4, 2013. CREDIT: (Credit: AP/Frank Augstein)

Originally published on Think Progress.
By Ryan Koronowski.

During a press conference with Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday afternoon Stockholm time, President Obama was asked what the United States could learn from Sweden. His first thought was sustainable energy development:

What I know about Sweden, I think, offers us some good lessons. Number one, the work you have done on energy I think is something the United States can and will learn from. Because every country in the world right now has to recognize if we are going to continue to grow and improve our standard of living while maintaining a sustainable planet, we are going to have to change our patterns of energy use. And Sweden I think is far ahead of many other countries.

So what can the U.S. learn from Sweden?

Sweden gets most of its electricity from hydroelectric and nuclear power, dating from investments in the 50s and 60s. Renewable energy — mainly wind — has also been on the rise, such that right now, over 47 percent of all energy consumed in Sweden comes from renewable sources. The vast majority of the electricity mix comes from renewables and nuclear.

But this hasn’t happened on its own. The switch is the result of a concerted effort to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, which in the mid-70s had constituted around three-quarters of total energy supply.

swedenenergy
Source: Swedish Energy Agency

The main driver has been a long-standing and uncontroversial carbon tax. Sweden began taxing carbon emissions back in 1991, at around $133 per ton. The system has changed a bit over the years, with industry paying less of the tax and consumers paying more, and the tax up to around $150 per ton.

Daniel Engström, the director of climate at the Forum for Reforms, Entrepreneurship and Sustainability in Sweden, said that Sweden does not have as many people who deny that climate change is a problem as the U.S. does (most Swedish energy critics are critical of onshore wind farms).

There have been some concerns about higher fuel prices, but because oil is so expensive to import, and the carbon tax went into effect so long ago, and because biofuels are an increasingly feasible option, many people do not notice the carbon tax. Revenues have been high, the tax is efficient, and emissions have dropped more than expected.

According to the IEA, “Sweden has the lowest share of fossil fuels in the energy supply mix among IEA member countries.” Oil accounts for 27 percent of the total energy supply, and has been steadily losing ground to biofuels.

The country imports all of its oil — and more than half of those imports come from Russia. Total domestic demand has actually dropped since 1985.

Other fossil fuels are a similarly small share of the electricity mix. Only 3 percent of the country’s total energy production comes from gas. Most of the coal used in Sweden is used for industrial purposes — it barely registers as an electricity generator.

Even so, Sweden is committed to reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020. The country also invests in renewable energy through a market-based certificate system.

After the press conference with the Prime Minister, President Obama visited an energy expo at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology. He spoke with people at Volvo who are aiming to have fully electric public transit buses up and running by 2015, which would pay for themselves within 10 years. Obama also looked at some fuel cell and electric personal vehicles, and posed the challenges of scaling up such a system as a ‘chicken and egg’ question: “In the United States, one of the challenges has to do with distribution… if I was going shopping, where am I gonna refuel, right?”

Sweden’s longstanding carbon tax and emissions and renewable targets have been in operation while the nation thrived economically as much of the rest of Europe fell to pieces.

C. Fred Bergsten, director emeritus at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said that “Sweden has one of the lowest inflation rates in Europe; it runs a budget surplus every year; its corporate tax rates are considerably lower than U.S. rates; and it spends more on research and development, as a share of its economy, than we do.”

So it seems that the main thing the U.S. can learn from Sweden on energy policy is that carbon pollution is not essential to economic success.

This article, Obama Names Sweden A Model For Energy Policy — Here’s Why, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

CleanTechnica is one of 18 blogs in the Important Media blog network. With a bit of overlap in coverage, we sometimes repost some of the great content published by our sister sites.