Wind Power in Urban Areas – Overcoming Challenges and Barriers

Wind Power in Urban Areas Overcoming Challenges and Barriers

Wind energy is one of the fastest-growing renewable sources of electricity. Unfortunately, it faces numerous difficulties when trying to integrate with urban environments.

Space constraints, noise pollution and turbulence are some of the challenges we face. This article aims to tackle some of these issues and show how they can be overcome.

1. Wind Turbines Take Up a Lot of Space

Wind turbines are machines that harness the energy from wind to rotate a rotor blade and generate electricity, which is then distributed to end users via electric utilities.

Wind power is a clean, renewable source of electricity that can be generated onshore in large bodies of water like oceans and lakes. This renewable resource is growing in popularity worldwide.

Wind turbines not only generate energy but also have many environmental advantages. They help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

They can reduce air pollution and improve air quality by limiting harmful particulates released into the atmosphere.

Wind turbines are often clustered together into a wind farm, acting as one large power plant producing electricity. Wind farms can be situated either on land or in water and offer greater output than individual turbines can generate.

2. Turbulent Wind

Turbulent winds occur when air changes direction quickly or passes over obstacles like hills, mountains and buildings. They have the potential to negatively affect power output, turbine loads and noise production.

At day, low-level turbulence is magnified due to solar heating and convection; at night it diminishes due to the cooling effect of the atmosphere.

Due to thermal inversion, warm air above the surface is more buoyant and cooler air beneath it is dispersed and displaced. Together these effects produce irregular wind speed fluctuations and shear patterns.

Aeronautics researchers have studied this process to gain a better insight into the physics of multiscale interactions. To do so, they simulated imprints of obstacles from different heights on wind flow patterns in order to better comprehend how wakes interact.

These imprints, known as turbulent wakes, fade away as they move downwind of an obstacle. These mechanically generated turbulence is stronger near the obstacle but weaker than convectively or shear-generated turbulence.

3. Noise

Wind power has great potential in urban areas, particularly when innovative designs are developed that address some of the challenges and barriers. One such issue is noise.

Though turbines are generally considered not a health risk, the noise they produce can be annoying for some people. Fortunately, technology is progressing at an impressive rate and smaller turbines are quieter than their larger counterparts.

Aside from noise, turbines can also harm wildlife. This has become particularly of concern with the recent and rapid expansion of wind farms.

However, it is essential to remember that these issues can be mitigated by designing and planning wind farms in such a way as to minimize their effect on nearby residents and wildlife.

Furthermore, much research has been invested in developing quieter wind turbine designs that are less obtrusive than their larger predecessors. This is especially crucial for cities where space is at a premium.

4. Lack of Performance Data

Despite the growing demand for cleaner energy sources, many remain unconvinced due to a lack of reliable performance data. This can be an impediment to wind power adoption in urban areas.

Success requires accurate measurement of wind speed and power production. For this, a high-resolution wind map is necessary to capture terrain forcing and surrounding building effects.

Unfortunately, it can be challenging to locate a mapping solution that accurately captures these details. This hurdle significantly slows down progress in the development of modern technology.

Fortunately, several methods exist to accurately estimate wind speed and power production in urban environments. One approach relies on city fast fluid dynamics (CityFFD), which models microclimates within cities; another utilizes machine learning techniques with hourly weather data to predict potential wind energy generation within those same urban areas.