Researchers aim to build urban resilience and maximize output from wind farms

Written by
Molly Seltzer
Molly Seltzer, Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment
Jan. 11, 2021

The Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment has funded two projects through its grant for Innovative Research in Energy and the Environment. One seeks to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on cities in hopes of building infrastructure that is more resilient to multiple shocks. The other aims to investigate the flow of air and water around offshore wind turbines to better design the wind farms for maximum power output.

Eighty-percent of GDP globally is generated in cities, and almost 60% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Anu Ramaswami, the Sanjay Swani ’87 Professor of India Studies, professor of civil and environmental engineering and the High Meadows Environmental Institute, and director of the M.S. Chadha Center for Global India at the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, is interviewing city managers in India and the United States to answer the question of how urban infrastructure and peoples’ behavior and preferences were impacted by the pandemic. Elke Weber, the Gerhard R. Andlinger Professor in Energy and the Environment, professor of psychology and the School of Public and International Affairs and associate director for education at the Andlinger Center, is surveying citizens in the two countries on their pandemic experiences.

As states look to offshore wind to meet clean energy goals, how these wind farms are designed becomes all the more important. New Jersey, for example, has committed to developing enough offshore wind capacity to power 3.2 million homes by 2035. But one detail that is not well understood is how to design wind farms so that the wind flows efficiently between turbines. Princeton researchers are developing methods to account for the “wake effect” that upstream turbines have on those downstream. Predicting these wakes for offshore wind farms is difficult due to the complex energy exchanges between the atmosphere, sea surface, and the turbines themselves. Michael E. Mueller, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, is leading the project to develop novel computational fluid dynamics modeling for the coupled behavior of the sea surface and wind turbine wakes to inform wind farm design. Luc Deike, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and the High Meadows Environmental Institute is a collaborator, along with Elie Bou-Zeid and Marcus Hultmark.

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