Turbine Scale and Siting Considerations in Wind Plant Layout Optimization and Implications for Capacity Density

Andrew Stanley, Owen Roberts, Anthony Lopez, Travis Williams, Aaron Barker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus Citations


Improvements in wind energy technology, reduced costs, and ambitious clean energy goals have led to projections of high wind contribution in coming years. Developing methodologies to design wind plants with a variety of siting constraints and turbine sizes helps enable high wind penetration, and gain a better understanding of how wind plants are sensitive to setback constraints and turbine design. In this paper, we present a two-step optimization method to simultaneously determine the optimal number of turbines and their locations in a wind plant domain divided into many small, discrete parcels. We present the optimized performance metrics of a wind plant optimized with different turbine sizes and ratings, and with different siting restrictions within the wind plant. Our results indicate that taller and larger turbines are more sensitive to increasing siting constraints. We also compare the optimal wind plant layouts and performance for wind plants optimized for minimum COE and maximum profit. Wind plants optimized for profit had 130%–190% of the capacity of plants optimized for COE, which demonstrates that the optimal results are greatly affected by the objective function, which should be carefully considered. Finally, in this paper we demonstrate the effect of increasing siting constraints on wind plant capacity density, and how the results change when different land areas are used to calculate capacity density. When using the entire wind plant boundary area to determine capacity density, increasing siting constraints decreases the capacity density. However, when we only use the available area (the area left after removing the siting constraints) to calculate the capacity density, increasing the siting constraints increases capacity density. This is a critical insight because of how capacity density is typically defined and used in research, and has important implications for assessment of technical potential and capacity expansion modeling, as well as future wind deployment potential.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)3507-3525
Number of pages19
JournalEnergy Reports
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s)

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-79928


  • Capacity density
  • Setback constraints
  • Siting considerations
  • Turbine scale
  • Wind plant layout optimization


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