EGU24-4688, updated on 08 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Effects of Upstream Obstacles on Energy Production of Solar and Wind Farms

Abhirup Bhattacharya1 and Somnath Baidya Roy2
Abhirup Bhattacharya and Somnath Baidya Roy
  • 1Model Research & Evaluation, Gallagher Re, Mumbai, India (
  • 2Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, New Delhi, India (

Power production from a renewable energy (RE) source such as a wind farm or urban roof-top solar panel installation is highly sensitive to the obstacles around it, particularly those which are in the upstream direction. RE installations can avoid or minimize the effects of obstacles using proper planning. However, obstacles that come up after the plant is operational can lead to significant loss in power production and revenue. In this study we quantitatively explore two common examples – shading effect of neighbouring buildings on roof-top solar plants and wake effects of upstream wind turbines on offshore wind farms.

The first example considers a horizontal solar panel atop an urban building in a relatively congested neighbourhood. We built a model to quantify the shading effects of neighbouring tall buildings on the solar panel. The model calculates the position of the Sun on the celestial dome at every minute with astronomical accuracy. Then the solar irradiance is calculated for a clear-sky environment. After that the shadow profile is calculated and visualized for obstacle buildings with any height and at any distance. And finally, the loss in available insolation and the power production is calculated. The results show significant power loss due to the building shading effect. For example, a roof-top solar panel surrounded by a 20m taller building at 20m distance can reduce power generation by more than 50%.

The second example is where a new wind farm is constructed upstream of an existing wind farm. We used two different models to quantify the meteorological effects of the upstream wind turbines on downwind turbines. The first one involves Jensen Wake Model (JWM), a static wake recovery model to simulate the wake effects of upstream obstacle turbine on downwind turbine. The second approach makes use of the Wind Turbine Parameterization (WTP) in WRF. This method implements wake loss using a wind turbine power curve data and wake recovery through atmospheric vertical mixing. A case study has been conducted for a hypothetical offshore wind farm situated in Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka by placing wind farms of different shapes and dimensions in the upwind direction. The results show a range of losses in annual power production between 3 – 12 MW, which roughly converts into €1.1M – €4.1M.

This study demonstrates that the effects of upstream obstacles on RE sources are non-trivial and can have serious impacts on the performance on RE installations. Currently, local zoning laws in India and many countries do not protect RE installations from future constructions that can act as obstacles. Hence, effective policies are required to safeguard the return on investments in the RE industry.

How to cite: Bhattacharya, A. and Baidya Roy, S.: Effects of Upstream Obstacles on Energy Production of Solar and Wind Farms, EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-4688,, 2024.