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No More Selfish Wind Turbines

Researchers from the University of Illinois have devised a method for making wind farms move collectively in order to maximize their performance. It's all about co-ordinated teamwork.

Besides feeling like an apt metaphor for the need for widespread collaboration in the global fight against climate change, the University of Illinois team's work has the potential to greatly improve wind farm efficiency, further incentivizing renewable energy adoption. Wind farms are, afterall, a crucial ingredient in the battle to replace fossil fuels to power our world. They are already making substantial in-roads, but what if they could be made more efficient - rather than bigger and bigger?

As wind passes through a turbine, it slows down as it transfers its energy, and effectively creates a wake that reduces the average downwind velocity. When every turbine is optimized to achieve the best possible results for itself, it can create a problem for the wind farm as a whole as it is not controlled in a way that accounts for the reduced downwind velocity, reports Interesting Engineering.

In a paper published in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, the researchers from the University of Illinois detail their method for controlling upstream turbines in a manner that prevents downstream turbines from being adversely affected, by utilising the power of Artificial Intelligence.

The researchers designed controllers that view the wind farm system as an holistic whole, allowing them to generate renewable energy more efficiently.

"If you think of a wind farm as a group of turbines each vying for the incoming wind, if every turbine is greedy and tries to maximize its own power, the system as a whole is suboptimal," said author Lucas Buccafusca. "Our work seeks to design controls for turbines to work collectively, thereby improving performance."


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