Study: Wind farms offer diminishing returns as they grow more widespread

Watts Up With That?

As wind-turbine farms expand, research shows they could offer diminishing returns

From the UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS


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LAWRENCE — Renewable wind energy is experiencing a boom, with more wind turbines popping up across landscapes in the U.S. and abroad. Indeed, wind energy accounted for 3.3 percent of electricity generation in the United States in 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Globally, that number was 2.9 percent for the same year.

But as wind turbines proliferate, researchers at the University of Kansas are looking at how these forests of turbines affect the wind itself. What happens to the wind when a larger number of wind turbines removes more and more of the energy of atmospheric motion?

Atmospheric science professors Nate Brunsell and David Mechem in KU’s Department of Geography are co-authors of a new study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by an international research…

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