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Estimating the potential yield of small wind turbines in urban areas: a case study for Greater London, UK

Drew, D.R., Barlow, J.F. and Cockerill, T.T. (2013) Estimating the potential yield of small wind turbines in urban areas: a case study for Greater London, UK. Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics, 115. pp. 104-111. ISSN 0167-6105

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jweia.2013.01.007


To optimise the placement of small wind turbines in urban areas a detailed understanding of the spatial variability of the wind resource is required. At present, due to a lack of observations, the NOABL wind speed database is frequently used to estimate the wind resource at a potential site. However, recent work has shown that this tends to overestimate the wind speed in urban areas. This paper suggests a method for adjusting the predictions of the NOABL in urban areas by considering the impact of the underlying surface on a neighbourhood scale. In which, the nature of the surface is characterised on a 1 km2 resolution using an urban morphology database. The model was then used to estimate the variability of the annual mean wind speed across Greater London at a height typical of current small wind turbine installations. Initial validation of the results suggests that the predicted wind speeds are considerably more accurate than the NOABL values. The derived wind map therefore currently provides the best opportunity to identify the neighbourhoods in Greater London at which small wind turbines yield their highest energy production. The model does not consider street scale processes, however previously derived scaling factors can be applied to relate the neighbourhood wind speed to a value at a specific rooftop site. The results showed that the wind speed predicted across London is relatively low, exceeding 4 ms-1 at only 27% of the neighbourhoods in the city. Of these sites less than 10% are within 10 km of the city centre, with the majority over 20 km from the city centre. Consequently, it is predicted that small wind turbines tend to perform better towards the outskirts of the city, therefore for cities which fit the Burgess concentric ring model, such as Greater London, ‘distance from city centre’ is a useful parameter for siting small wind turbines. However, there are a number of neighbourhoods close to the city centre at which the wind speed is relatively high and these sites can only been identified with a detailed representation of the urban surface, such as that developed in this study.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Energy Research
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:34485

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