Striking the right balance between wind energy and biodiversity

Calculating the performance of wind farms.

A wind turbine in the Romanian Carpathians. © 2018 EPFL
A wind turbine in the Romanian Carpathians. © 2018 EPFL

In collaboration with the University of Bucharest in Romania, scientists at the EPFL have developed a simulator that can calculate the performance of wind farms. Researchers from the Wind Engineering and Renewable Energy Laboratory (WIRE), the Ecological Systems Laboratory (ECOS) and the Laboratory of Geographic Information Systems (LASIG) pooled their data and models with those of experts from the University of Bucharest’s Centre of Landscape–Territory–Information Systems (CeLTIS) as part of a ground-breaking initiative in wind energy.

Through this stimulator, scientists are planning to reproduce in a given landscape the wind energy potential in the long term, considering the development of the scene and its biodiversity: the model permits to incorporate for example the part of farming area utilize.

This is imperative for striking the correct harmony between arable land and pastureland, which can create solid winds, and normal woodland, where the trees have a tendency to diminish the execution of wind farms.

The case study simulated the impact of land use policy on wind energy potential and biodiversity in the Southern Carpathians, even though no such project is in the pipeline for the moment.

The model gives information on how much wind energy can be created and how heterogeneous the scene must be to safeguard local biodiversity. As per the investigation, if the encompassing region is transcendently forest, the wind farm will deliver just 60% of its most extreme limit and biodiversity will be direct. Then again, if the territory is completely cleared for field and escalated cultivating, the wind farm will be at full creation yet biodiversity will be extensively diminished attributable to the unremarkable scene.

At the point when the correct adjust is struck between horticultural land and woodland, the wind farm can keep up 70– 80% of its creation limit, and biodiversity stays high in view of the heterogeneous scene and differing living spaces. Another favorable position of this multidisciplinary coupled model is that it evaluates the breeze wind’s energy generation all through its valuable life.

The topography and landscape of the Carpathian Mountains are like those of Switzerland’s Jura region, with mountains – extending from 930 to 1,400 meters – specked with backwoods, fields, and pastures, and in addition, isolated trees. The model could along these lines be connected in Switzerland also.

Jiannong Fang, a researcher at the WIRE Lab and lead author of the study said, “Our findings show that it’s possible to reach a compromise between biodiversity and wind-energy production and that trying to achieve maximum energy output straightaway is an error.”

“Thanks to the models from those labs, I was able to improve my wind energy predictions and extend them over the long term. I was also able to look at how the landscape and surrounding forest could be developed and how this would impact wind energy potential.”

Jiannong Fang is looking to further hone his model: “Climate change may have a slight impact on our findings. Adding various climate scenarios relating, for instance, to changes in humidity and vegetation would make our model’s predictions even more reliable and could be the topic of a future work.”

Scientists reported their study in the journal Science of The Total Environment.