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Study to Determine Impact of Wind Farms on Ultra-Light Aircrafts

The common factor for wind farms and airfields for ultra-light aircrafts is the level ground on which they must be located. The ultra-light aviation industry comprising one-seater aircrafts and motorized hang gliders is mushrooming.

Simulated representation of turbulence from wind farms (Credit: Fraunhofer)

This has led to setting up of airfields on flat lands, which also happens to be the location of wind farms. This co-existence could pose a risk to aviators as it is possible for the aerodynamics of the surrounding area to be altered by the wind farms. In addition, the turbulence caused by the rotors of the wind mills could be dangerous while landing and take-off of the ultra-light aircrafts.

BMR Windenergie, the company that is setting up a wind farm in the proximity of the Linnich-Boslar ULV Airfield, wants to ensure the extent of this impact to gauge the risk to aviators before it commissions the wind farm.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology (IWES) has undertaken the study on behalf of BMR. The team at Fraunhofer has developed a simulation that represents two different wind speeds and multiple wind directions for five flight courses in which the plane would be under the sphere of influence of the rotor for different periods of time. The team adopted a complex grid model in which a grid was placed on top of the computer model of the ground and wind profile. The software can compute the turbulence and change in wind conditions caused by the power plant at various points on the grid. The simulation was validated with actual measurements of wind conditions behind the rotors.

The researchers found that turbulence caused by the wind plants was lower than the naturally prevailing turbulence of the area. This model can be extended to other airfields only after adjusting the simulations for differences in the terrain.

Source: http://www.fraunhofer.de/

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