Optimizing Wind Power Generation while Minimizing Wildlife Impacts in an Urban Area

Bohrer, Gil; Zhu, Kunpeng; Jones, Robert L.; Curtis, Peter S.
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
The location of a wind turbine is critical to its power output, which is strongly affected by the local wind field. Turbine operators typically seek locations with the best wind at the lowest level above ground since turbine height affects installation costs. In many urban applications, such as small-scale turbines owned by local communities or organizations, turbine placement is challenging because of limited available space and because the turbine often must be added without removing existing infrastructure, including buildings and trees. The need to minimize turbine hazard to wildlife compounds the challenge. We used an exclusion zone approach for turbine-placement optimization that incorporates spatially detailed maps of wind distribution and wildlife densities with power output predictions for the Ohio State University campus. We processed public GIS records and airborne lidar point-cloud data to develop a 3D map of all campus buildings and trees. High resolution large-eddy simulations and long-term wind climatology were combined to provide land-surface-affected 3D wind fields and the corresponding wind-power generation potential. This power prediction map was then combined with bird survey data. Our assessment predicts that exclusion of areas where bird numbers are highest will have modest effects on the availability of locations for power generation. The exclusion zone approach allows the incorporation of wildlife hazard in wind turbine siting and power output considerations in complex urban environments even when the quantitative interaction between wildlife behavior and turbine activity is unknown.


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