A wind turbine is used to convert wind power into energy. When the wind blows, it spins the blades of the wind turbine, which in turn converts the spinning into electricity. Wind turbines, however, must be placed in areas where they are most effective without causing adverse environmental impacts. As such, various factors affect their placement.
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Spacing and Turbulence
A major factor in wind turbine placement is the spacing of each individual turbine. When wind turbines are placed too close to one another, they can create turbulence. Ultimately, the turbulence created by the close placement of the turbines can reduce efficiency by affecting the amount of energy created. Upwind turbines can also reduce the wind speed and create higher energy loads on the downwind turbines.
Wind turbines are large pieces of equipment. They are extremely visible, especially when grouped together in a wind farm. Further, due to the nature of wind turbines, they must be placed in open areas exposed to wind, which serves to increase their visibility. A solution to the visual impact is to reduce the number of wind turbines in one location. Alternatively, many organisations have begun to place wind turbines in offshore locations.
Early models of wind turbines were loud. As they spun, a distinctive noise was created. Scientists have recently developed updated models that reduce the noise created by the turbine. So use updated technology to lesson the overall effects of wind turbines. Placement of the turbine in an area where the impact of the noise will be minimised also can help to reduce negative perceptions of wind turbines.
One factor that can be extremely controversial when determining the placement of wind turbines is the effect the turbines may have on birds. The placement of wind turbines can damage avian habitats, harm migration patterns or lead to collisions between birds and the spinning blades. To reduce the impact on the local bird species, turbines should be placed away from mating and nesting grounds as well as out of the way of migration paths.
It is paramount to place the wind turbine in an area that receives regular wind activity. Otherwise, the wind turbine may not operate optimally. Ideal locations for wind turbines include coastal areas, open fields, tops of rounded hills or gaps mountain ranges. You need a consistent and reliable wind source to turn the turbines and create the power source.
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- Encyclopedia of Earth: Wind Farm
- U.S. Department of Energy Wind and Water Power Program: How Wind Turbines Work
- Wind Energy Development Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement: Wind Energy Development Environmental Concerns
- Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: Wind Farms
- Wind Energy Facts: Wind Farms