Scientists Study Effects of North Sea Wind Farms on Local Climate

Image source: KIT

Climate researchers at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are coordinating a research project to study the interaction between wind farms and their potential effect on local climate in the North Sea.

So far, mutual interactions of wind farms and their potential effects on local climate have been approximated with models only. Thanks to their wide installation, however, it is now possible for the first time to study their effects in reality, KIT said in a statement.

On the relatively smooth surface of the sea, offshore wind farms represent obstacles for the wind, and turbines slow the wind down while increasing turbulence, KIT said.

The research project – WIPAFF – Wind Park Far Field – will combine instruments on platforms in the North Sea and instruments on a research aircraft with the evaluation of satellite data for the detailed determination of the wind field, weather conditions, and waves on the surface of the sea upstream and downstream of wind farms. The objective of the KIT researchers is to model the wind field between 10 and 100km downstream of large wind farms.

“Depending on the weather, i.e. on wind direction, air temperature, and properties of the water surface, wind speed sometimes reaches its original value after ten to 100 km only,” project head Professor Stefan Emeis of the Atmospheric Environmental Research Division of the KIT’s Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU) sais.

”In addition, air masses may be deflected to the sides around large wind parks or upwards. This may cause the wind parks to shade each other. We also cannot exclude that the climate is changed locally and that temperature, cloud, and precipitation distributions over the North Sea and adjacent coast areas are changed.”

The project partners of KIT are Technische Universität Braunschweig, the University of Tübingen, Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (Center for Materials and Costal Research), and UL International GmbH (former DEWI, German Wind Energy Institute).

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