FLOWE wind farm designUpdated: 11/03/2012
Wind farm spatial design increases efficiency
About the ProductCompany: The Caltech Field Laboratory for Optimized Wind Energy
Product Phase: Under development
Product Type: Wind farm spatial design
Product or processAs fish swim, they shed tiny vortices. In large schools of fish, individuals transfer energy to each other with these vortices, lowering the energetic costs of swimming. Researcher John Dabiri has taken inspiration from this strategy and applied similar principles to the spatial design of wind farms. By placing vertical-axis turbines (different from the traditional horizontal-axis, propeller-style turbines) close together in a strategic array, energy is gathered by each turbine, while simultaneously directing wind to nearby turbines. Dabiri's research team, supported in part by Windspire Energy Inc., is currently working to determine ideal positioning of turbines to achieve optimum power output.
Challenges solvedThe largest issue facing wind farms is the space required for propeller-style turbines to function properly. The vertical-axis turbines used by researchers demand less space to operate and are placed in close proximity as a necessary part of the spatial design, significantly decreasing the acreage necessary for the gathering of wind power.
Differences from existing productsDabiri estimates that once optimal positioning is determined, it may be possible to produce 10 times the amount of wind energy currently generated by a common horizontal turbine wind farm.