New research from an environmental journal suggests that the generating capacity of large windfarms may have been overestimated.

This is due to the effect of so-called ‘wind shadows’. Every wind turbine creates a wind shadow in which the air has been slowed down by drag on the blades. While turbines are usually build with sufficient space to reduce the impact of the shadows, atmospheric modelling shows that as windfarms grow larger they begin to interact and affect regional wind patterns, reducing the wind’s speed.

Experts believe that the peak generating capacity of windfarms larger than 100km2 may therefore be between 0.5 and 1W/m2, considerably lower than previous estimates of between 2 and 7W/m2. Suggesting that wind power may not be an unlimited resource after all.

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