Effective and time-efficient decision-making in the early stages of wind farm planning can lay the foundation of a successful wind energy project. Undesirable concept-to-installation delays in wind farm development is often caused by conflicting decisions from the major parties involved (e.g., developer, investors, landowners, and local communities), which in turn can be (in a major part) attributed to the lack of an upfront understanding of the trade-offs between the technical, socio-economic, and environmental-impact aspects of the wind farm for the given site. This paper proposes a consolidated visualization platform for wind farm planning, which could facilitate informed and co-operative decision-making by the parties involved. This visualization platform offers a GUI-based land shape chart, which provides the following information: the variation of the energy production capacity and of the corresponding required optimal land shape with different land area and nameplate capacity decisions. In order to develop this chart, a bi-objective optimization problem is formulated (using the Unrestricted Wind Farm Layout Optimization framework) to maximize the capacity factor and minimize the land usage, subject to different nameplate capacity decisions. The application of an Optimal Layout-based land usage estimate allows the wind farm layout optimization to run without pre-specifying any farm boundaries; the optimal land shape is instead determined as a post process, using convex hull and minimum bounding rectangle concept, based on the optimal arrangement of turbines. Three land shape charts are generated under three characteristic wind patterns (i) single dominant wind direction, (ii) two opposite dominant wind directions, and (ii) two orthogonal dominant wind directions, all three patterns comprising the same wind speed distribution. The results indicate that the optimal land shape is highly sensitive to the variation in LAMI for small-capacity wind farms (few turbines) and to the variation in nameplate capacity for small allowed land area. For the same decided nameplate capacity and LAMI values, we observe reasonable similarity in the optimal land shapes and the maximum energy production potentials given the "single dominant direction" and the "two opposite dominant directions" wind patterns; the optimal land shapes and the maximum energy production potentials yielded by the "two orthogonal dominant directions" wind pattern is however observed to be relatively different from the other two cases. © 2013 by Achille Messac.
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