Coastal impacts on offshore wind farms - a review focussing on the German Bight area


The atmospheric boundary layer experiences multiple changes in coastal regions, especially with wind directions from land towards the sea, where the wind speed usually increases due to the smaller roughness of the ocean surface. These effects are of particular relevance for offshore wind energy utilization; they are summarized under the term coastal effects. This paper provides an overview of coastal effects and their potential impact on the operating conditions of offshore wind farms with a focus on the German Bight. Common numerical and experimental tools to study coastal effects and developing internal boundary layers (IBL) are introduced, and a review on the current state of research is given. The German Bight is an interesting example to illustrate impacts of coastal effects on offshore wind energy, because of the large number of wind turbines with a coastal distance of 100 km or less. Phenomena related to the stability of the boundary layer, like low level jets, are discussed. Spatial variations of vertical heat fluxes in the coastal zone related to variable water depths or Wadden Sea areas are analysed. The study illustrates that due to the increasing size of offshore wind farms, horizontal wind speed gradients caused by coastal effects can lead to significant wind variations within a single farm. Research topics which still need further attention are discussed in the framework of the rapidly developing wind energy sector with increasing wind turbine hub heights and rotor diameters as well as growing wind farm sizes. One example is the interaction of coastal effects with offshore wind farm wakes. The necessity to consider a large spectrum of spatial and temporal scales to understand and describe coastal effects is highlighted. We summarize modelling and observation tools, which are suitable for the investigation and prediction of the boundary layer dynamics in coastal areas. Existing applications and results are described based on several examples with collocated observation and model results obtained in the X‑Wakes project. The study puts particular focus on the large potential provided by the combination of different measurements and modelling techniques and gives recommendations for future developments of integrated approaches including the formulation of priorities.
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