What’s good for one is not always best for all. Solitary wind turbines produce the most power when pointing directly into the wind. But when tightly packed lines of turbines face the wind on wind farms, wakes from upstream generators can interfere with those downstream. Like a speedboat slowed by choppy water from a boat in front, the wake from a wind turbine reduces the output of those behind it.
Pointing turbines slightly away from oncoming wind — called wake-steering — can reduce that interference and improve both the quantity and quality of power from wind farms, and probably lower operating costs, a new Stanford study shows.
Lead author Michael Howland is a 2016 Stanford Graduate Fellow