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A team of researchers led by Nils Christiansen from the Helmholtz Center Hereon has published a study on the impact of offshore wind farms on ocean dynamics. The focus was on weakening wind and the accompanying changes in the physical conditions of the affected North Sea areas.

Turbines sap energy out of the wind

Wind turbines pose obstacles to water and air. The effects are of great importance with regard to the planning of future offshore wind farms. The study appeared in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science.

The imposing images of offshore wind farms in the North Sea overlooking the glittering water are firmly etched in people’s minds. But what are the effects associated with this important building block of Germany’s energy transition?

The study of the Hereon Institute for Coastal Systems – Analysis and Modeling simulates a weakening of the wind speed on the leeside of the parks. Evidence for the phenomenon was recently provided by a Hereon team whose study appeared in the journal Nature (Akthar et al., 2021).

The turbines weaken the wind as they extract kinetic energy to generate electricity. Downwind of the wind turbines, so-called atmospheric wake vortices develop. These are characterized by reduced wind speed as well as by special pressure conditions and increased air turbulence. Under stable atmospheric conditions, the wind speed deficits can propagate up to 70 km behind the wind farms.