As wind farms and wind farm technology become more mainstream, researchers like Charles Meneveau at John Hopkins University and Johan Meyers at Leuven University in Belgium have made some conclusions regarding the optimization of wind farm spacing.
"The optimal spacing between individual wind turbines is actually a little farther apart than what people use these days," says Meneveau.
Utilizing large-scale computer simulations and small-scale experiments, the research considers cumulative effects of hundreds, or even thousands, of wind turbines interacting with the atmosphere.
The energy a large wind farm can produced depends less on horizontal winds and more on entraining strong winds from higher in the atmosphere.
In the right configuration, lots of turbines essentially change the roughness of the land and create turbulence. Turbulence mixes the air and helps pull down kinetic energy from above.
Using 5 megawatt-rated machines and some reasonable economic figures, Meneveau calculates that the optimal spacing between turbines should be about 15 rotor diameters instead of the currently prevalent figure of 7 rotor diameters.