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Ten wind farms that will blow you away!

Ten wind farms that will blow you away!
June 26, 2018 Danny Scrivener

Overview

Wind farms are where Pager Power began and we have worked on a large number of them over the years all over the world. It is always interesting to discover record setters, planning successes and impressively designed wind developments which set them apart from the others.

The following article presents a list of international wind developments, both operational and proposed which stand out for varying reasons.  It is not a comprehensive list, instead it has been compiled to inspire and show the impressive feats of engineering and design within the wind industry.

1. Tehachapi Wind Farms – California, USA

The Tehachapi region of California is considered the birthplace of wind power in North America[1]. The development represents the progression of wind development and technology over almost four decades. Starting in the 1980’s, wind turbines have been built and replaced. The first turbines measured 45-60 feet and produced energy in kilo-Watt terms, today’s wind turbines[2] measure 400-500 feet and produce energy in mega-Watt terms. It currently consists of around 4,731 wind turbines and is the second biggest in California. The development includes a visitor centre and self-guided tour facility.

top ten wind farms

Figure 1: Tehachapi Wind Farms[4]

2. Wind Farm Theme Park – Netherlands

Proposed back in 2015, Dutch company Qurrent, in collaboration Jora Entertainment[3], proposed an 8,000 square metre wind farm theme park utilising the structure of the wind turbine to provide thrills for all the family. Initial plans included four wind turbine-based rides including a roller coaster and water slide. The aim of the park was to promote wind energy, sustainability and provide entertainment. To date however it is understood that the plans have not progressed significantly. It will be interesting to see whether the theme park is ever built.

Click here to view the proposed Wind Farm Theme Park concept.

3. Olympic Wind turbines – PyeongChang, South Korea

The 2018 winter Olympics was completely powered by wind energy built purposely for South Korea’s Olympic bid. Erection of the wind turbines in Gangwon, a province of PyeongChang, started while South Korea was bidding to host the 2018 winter games. Once the games were awarded, development of the wind farms was ramped up[5].

The completed wind farms ended up generating 203 megawatts during the games. This was 104 percent of the energy required to power the games[6]. It is believed that creating a ‘green’ Olympics will become more of a priority for future games.

top ten wind farms

Figure 2: Olympic wind farm in the Gangwon Province[5]

4. Strata SE1 – London, UK

The central London tall building nicknamed ‘the Razor’ was one of the first building developments to incorporate wind turbines into its structure. The building measures 148 metres and at its top has three 30ft wind turbines with a capacity of 19KWh each. The annual electrical capacity of the three wind turbines was expected to be 50 megawatt hours[7]. However over the years it has been questioned whether the wind turbines are operating as they should, with it being suggested that the wind turbines have been turned off at request of the residents due to noise and vibrations[8]. Questions therefore remain whether the wind turbines have been effective, but lessons are there to be learnt for future developments looking to incorporate wind turbines.

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Figure 3: Strata SE1, London[9]

5. Wind Stalks, bladeless wind turbines – Masdar, UAE

A development was at concept stage in 2010, the idea is to use harness the wind as it blows through hundreds of stalks which are in turn connected to a generator and water pump. As the wind blows it vibrates the 55m tall stalks, swaying them back and forth, in turn producing electricity. The proposed scheme also serves as a public space for people to enjoy. The stalks are also fitted with LEDs which glow brighter depending on the wind speed. The development would not provide constant energy, therefore a capacitor is built into each stalk which utilises the movement of fluid in the base which in turn powers a generator[10]. A development such as this is unlikely to produce vast quantities of electricity for export however it appears its main use would be to provide a fun space and proof of concept.

Click here to view images of the Wind Stalks.

6. World’s biggest wind farm – Gansu, China

The Gansu wind farm in China will be the world’s largest wind farm. Plans by 2020 are to increase its capacity from 8GW at present to 20GW. The wind farm is joint owned by 20 developers, with all schemes utilising a coordinated control centre to vary the generating capacity as required. The one draw back is that it is located a large distance from China’s biggest port cities and there is a lack of infrastructure to transport the energy across the country. This means that the energy produced does not go where it is needed most which has led to the development currently being under-utilised. As the supporting infrastructure improves hopefully the windfarm will reach its generative potential[11].

Figure 4: Gansu Wind Farm[12]

7. World’s largest offshore wind farm – London Array, UK

The London Array is the world’s largest offshore wind farm. Situated approximately 20km off the coast of Kent, it consists of 175 wind turbines and had a capacity of 630MW. Its construction began in early 2011 and originally consisted of two phases. The second phase of the development consisted of an additional 166 wind turbines however it was refused planning permission due to environmental impacts on avian species. In December 2015 the wind farm generated the most electricity in a single month over its lifetime, with 369,000 MWh of electricity produced[13]. It is not known whether this record has since been surpassed.

top ten wind farms

Figure 5: London Array offshore wind farm[14]

8. World’s first floating wind farm – Scotland

The world’s first floating wind farm was developed off the north east coast of Scotland on a project known as Hywind. The wind turbines are anchored to the floor with a thick mooring line, the turbine structure starts 78m below the ocean’s surface extending above. The submerged tube is filled with iron ore to balance out the weight of the turbine. The wind turbine’s blades are also specifically designed to adjust and balance itself according to the wind and waves to ensure it remains upright.

The Hywind development consists of five wind turbines measuring 175m to tip with a blade radius of 75m. Each wind turbine weighs 11,500 tonnes.

The benefits of a floating wind turbine are they can be placed in deeper water. For example the London array is places in water up to 25m deep. The Hywind floating wind turbines can be placed in water of depth anywhere up to 1km. This means that wind farm locations can be explored in areas previously thought to be unsuitable[15].

Figure 6: Hywind floating wind farm[16]

9. The coldest wind farm – Ross Island, Antarctica

The New Zealand owned wind farm is located on the southern tip of Ross Island. It consists of three wind turbines with a capacity of 0.33MW each. The turbines are predicted to save just over 10% of the diesel fuel used for energy generation at the site. Due to the harsh weather conditions in which the turbines are placed, eight 13 tonne pre-cast foundations were required, positioned in a circle around each turbine. Eight steel legs were then fastened to the turbine to ensure it remains upright[17]. A fly wheel has also been incorporated within the development to ensure the system can manage the variation in electrical generation due to wind speeds.  

Click here to view images of the Ross Island wind farm.

10. Proposed wind farm island – North Sea

An artificial island consisting of a port, airport, homes and wind farms is proposed in the North Sea. The development would be sited on Dogger Bank, near existing offshore wind farms. Two companies have drawn up the plans and they the island acting as a major hub for offshore wind development in the area. This means that construction and maintenance would be more cost effective in the long term. The proposals include wind farm expansion and for cables to be laid between Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Norway and the UK. The wind farms would be expected to eventually generate electricity for more than 80 million people[18].

top ten wind farms

Figure 7: North Sea wind farm island[18]

Have we missed one?

Have we missed any interesting worldwide wind developments, be it for planning, aesthetic or record setting reasons? Please comment in the box below and let us know.

References

[1] Tehachapi Wind Farm – Thousands of turbines whir at the origin of North American wind power, Atlas Obscura. Last accessed 20.08.2018.
[2] Tehachapi Wind Farm, California, The Centre for Land Use Interpretation. Last accessed 20.08.2018.
[3] Ride a wind turbine in this crazy wind farm amusement park, Lucy Wang of inhabitat, 30th November 2018. Last accessed 20.08.2018.
[4] Marcin Wichary, 9th December 2012. Last accessed 22.08.2018.
[5] PyeongChang 2018: How Green will the Winter Olympics Be? A Conversation with Sustainability Manager Hyeona Kim, Lew Blaustein of green Sports Blog, 23rd May 2018. Last accessed 20.08.2018.
[6] Did you know the 2018 Winter Olympics are powered by Wind Energy?, by Shruti Divecha of currentkids, 22nd February 2018. Last accessed 20.08.2018.
[7] Strata Tower: The First Building With Wind Turbines Incorporated Into Its Design, Ariel Schwartz of Fast Company, 15th March 2010. Last accessed 20.08.2018.
[8] The rarely spinning turbines of the Strata Tower, south London, urban75blog, 8th December 2011. Last accessed 20.08.2018.
[9] User:Colin, Strata SE1. from Monument 2014. Last accessed 22.08.2018.
[10] Windstalk, Atelier DNA, 2010. Last accessed 22.08.2018.
[11] China starts building first 10-GW mega wind farm, Reuters 8th August 2009. Last accessed 20.08.2018.
[12] Jerry Luo, 28th September 2016. Last accessed 22.08.2018.
[13] Renewable Energy Record Achieved at London Array, London Array, 14th January 2016. Last accessed 21.08.2018.
[14] pshab, substation of London Array offshore wind farm, 12th June 2016. Last accessed 22.08.2018.
[15] World’s first floating wind farm emerges off coast of Scotland, Roger Harrabin of BBC, 23rd July 2017. Last accessed 21.08.2018.
[16] Jarvin, Hywind havvindmølle, verdens første flytende havvindmølle, 13th May 2009. Last accessed 22.08.2018.
[17] Ross Island Wind Farm, New Zealand Wind Energy Association. Last accessed 22.08.2018.
[18] Artificial North Sea island: Danish, Dutch and German firms launch bid to make ‘science fiction’ plan a reality, Ian Johnston of the Independent, 10th March 2017. Last accessed 22.08.2018.

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