Friday, March 21, 2008

California wind power

I've been watching the tennis Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California this week, and once in a while, they'll show cuts of the city and desert. One of these scenes showed what looks like a hundred wind turbines bunched together over a distance of maybe several hundred feet. Their layout was side by side and also behind one another.

This brought me to thinking how can this work? I was under the impression that there has to be some considerable distance between turbines in order for them to function properly, and not spaced one behind the other. It seems like that would cause drag and efficiency problems for the turbines.

Maybe my distance perspective is grossly underestimated, but even if I'm off by a few hundred feet or so, it still seems like a lot of turbines over a relatively small spacing. Is this just plain inefficient and poor spacing? Or are there some exceptions when it comes to wind turbines, such as the manufacturing, or blade velocity, that allows for close bunching?


KK said...

I too saw the shot you were speaking of! Though it was just a quick glimpse, they looked abnormally close together to me as well. I have seen a lot of different wind farms - and this one just looks plain funny.

I tried to look up some info on the place, and it seems to not exist. The best I could find was a company named Suzlon that has a sales office nearby Indian Wells that does renewable energy. So maybe they own the turbines? Not to sure...

But in my search, I found a history of weather advisories for the area entitled "Wind Advisories". It made me wonder if this is good for the wind business - or maybe a bit too risky. This place seems like a crazy place with the closeness of the turbines and now this intensity in wind... Maybe something else is going on here?!

Just for fun - you should youtube "wild wind turbine" and check out the possible destruction if these things go crazy :)

Bonnie Beavers said...

I did not see the images that you two speak of, but I was interested in your post and comments on the subject. The needed spacing of turbines in a wind farm is real and necessary, so if the wind farm in California did not have appropriate spacing the efficiency of the entire farm could be reduced significantly.

As per wikipedia, turbines must be spaced three to five rotor diameters apart perpendicular to the prevailing wind and five to ten rotor diamteres apart in the direction of the prevailing wind. So, I guess if these turbines had small rotor diameters then they could have been closer than the wind farms you might be used to seeing in West Texas, with large rotor diameters.

So, hopefully this info. answered some of your questions.