Test at Alberta wind farm shows tiny tweak can boost power even when the breeze is calm

Turning a turbine just slightly away from the prevailing wind can boost output from a farm by as much as 47% when breezes are minimal.

The adjustment steers how the wind comes off one blade and into the next, according to the results of a 10-day test conducted at a TransAlta Corp. wind farm in Alberta by a Stanford University research team. In normal wind conditions, pushing the wind wake in slightly different directions boosted production by as much as 13%.

Turbulence from these wind-wakes can place extra strain on the blades and increase maintenance costs. Managing the air flow of upwind turbines can reduce stress as well as provide more power, John Dabiri, a professor and lead author of the study, said in an interview. The software his group developed to improve wind farm performance can be run on a laptop, he said.

“The potential gains are so significant that this should be rapidly deployed,” Dabiri said.

© 2019 Bloomberg L.P.