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Why Are Wind Farms Never Able to Produce at Full Power?

A clear explanation of the power curve from wind turbines, using the example of the GE 1.5-MW model. Importantly, this paper shows that, because real-world conditions do not conform to those of the laboratory, there is no plateau of full production between the “rated” and the “cut-out” wind speeds. The power curve in reality reaches full production at only a very narrow range of wind speeds in between the rated and cut-out speeds.

“Production starts at around 4 meters per second (m/s) [9 miles/hr], reaches full power at about 12 m/s [27 miles/hr], keeps on at full power up to a turbine shutoff at 24 or 25 m/s [54 or 56 miles/hr] or a similar number depending on model. This production curve is obtained in a wind tunnel testing facility for steady state airflow and provides a reliable description of the expected instantaneous production for laboratory conditions. Does this mean that the operator will have the same production in the field when the wind averages the laboratory wind speed? Well, not really. Let’s see why things may be different in the field, remembering that wind speed may easily vary by plus or minus 30% or more over a few minutes. …”

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