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Wind Power Plants and GIS

To discover the relation between Wind Power Plants and GIS (Geographical Information Systems) we need to first define wind power, then wind turbine and wind power plants.

Nowadays, GIS is used to find the correct location for the turbines, their arrangements and turbine spotting.

What is wind power?

Electricity is growing in importance. To meet the growing demand for sustainable energy and to reduce the levels of fossil fuels, renewables need to work together to secure a reliable, affordable and clean future energy supply.

Wind Power or Wind Energy is the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. It is the kinetic energy of air in motion, also called wind. To convert the kinetic energy to electrical energy a wind turbine is used.

Wind power has gained increasing momentum due to the damaging effects of fossil fuel power plants and nuclear power plants, as well as the expected consumption of fossil fuel resources over the next 50 years

How does a wind turbine work?

A wind turbine is the very modern version of a windmill. Simply, it uses the power of the wind to create electricity. The blades of most turbines will start turning at a wind speed of 3-5 meters per second, which is a gentle breeze.

First let’s start with the visible parts of the wind farm that we’re all used to seeing. Each of these turbines consists of two or three propeller-like blades around a rotor, a box beside them called a nacelle. Nacelle contains the gear box, low- and high-speed shafts, generator, controller, and brake. It’s this spinning motion from the rotor that turns a shaft in the nacelle. Then a generator built into the nacelle converts the kinetic energy on the turning shaft to electrical energy. This then passes through a transformer, which steps up the voltage so it can be transported on the national grid or used at local sites

How much electricity can a wind turbine create?

produce over 6 million kilowatt hours (kwh) of electricity every year. That’s enough to meet the electricity demand of around 1,500 average households.

Up to a certain level, the faster the wind blows, the more electricity is generated. In fact, when the wind speed doubles, up to eight times more electricity is generated. But if the wind is too strong, turbines will shut themselves down to prevent being damaged.

What is a wind power plant?

A wind farm or wind power plant is a group of wind turbines in the same location used to produce electricity. Wind farms vary in size from a small number of turbines to several hundred wind turbines covering an extensive area. Wind farms can be either onshore(on land) or offshore(on sea)

What is a digital wind farm?

In 1887, Charles Brush built behind his mansion in Cleveland, Ohio, a 4-ton wind generator with 144 blades and a comet-like tail, and used it to power a set of batteries in his basement. Nowadays we are talking about digital wind farms..

Digital wind farm usually is like a digital twin, a cloud-based computer model of a wind farm at a specific location. The model allows engineers to pick from as many as 20 different turbine configurations – from rotor diameter, to turbine output. The digital twin keeps crunching data coming from the wind farm and providing suggestions for making operations even more efficient, based on the software’s insights.

The data comes from dozens of sensors inside each turbine monitoring everything from the yaw of the nacelle, to the torque of the generator, to the speed of the blade tips. The digital twin, which can optimize wind equipment.

The Digital Wind Farm is an end-to-end wind energy system that leverages data, analytics, and software applications.

Wind power plants and GIS

A Geographic Information System (GIS) is a tool for displaying and analyzing information as it relates to a geographic location. So, GIS is the basic platform for the geographical data analysis and is also the utensil for wind resources representation all over the world.

GIS software programs provide the ability to organize, query, and analyze data, and to determine the answers required for informed decision making and comprehensive research. Typically, a GIS is created by collecting available and appropriate data, processing it into a usable form, and overlaying the resulting layers on a base map for a given area.

The selection of wind farm sites and the spotting of wind turbines depend on the following factors:

  • Wind Resources

  • Roughness of the terrain and obstacles

  • Road Access

  • Orography of the region

  • Accessibility to transmission and/or distribution networks

  • Soil Conditions

  • Environmental impacts

A GIS system, being capable of processing map related data, is the best alternative for decision making when wind farm planning is considered. Therefore GIS has been used for planning wind energy projects for more than a decade.

Location Selection

In addition to environmental fitness, wind energy potential is of crucial importance in selecting wind turbine locations. Environmental, orography, location, and climate criteria are mostly used to identify priority sites

In the GIS environment preparing various layers according to environmental objectives, economical feasibility criterias and factors mentioned above using GIS tools it is possible to find the feasible locations for future wind energy development.

The main disadvantages of renewable energy sources is dependence of energy generation on weather conditions and the climate. Using GIS maps with climate and wind layers and preparing tools for calculations and decision making makes it possible to choose the right location.

There are some examples, one of them; Claudio Monteiro developed a method based on a GIS system to detect high potential areas for wind farm location. His method utilizes the GIS system in two phases. In the first phase, the topography and roughness of terrain are transferred from the GIS to special software that generates the annual wind distributions in the area of interest. The wind distributions are then fed back to the GIS system to create the wind grid. In the second phase, the GIS system performs geographic filtering in order to exclude unfeasible places for wind farm sitting. The filtering process uses a set of rules defined by the user and having technical, social or administrative nature.

Wind turbine arrangements and tribune spotting

In a wind farm, turbines located too close together will result in upwind turbines interfering with the wind received by those located downwind; this effect is known as “the park effect”.

The GIS program can optimize turbine spotting within the selected project area so that maximum power can be installed or produced.

Another GIS solution example is made for the province of Iğdır; The wind power plant installation suitability has an area value of 3452.91 km2. This means 3,452,910 acres.

Wind energy pots were installed in this area at 1km intervals. Approximately 345,291 MW of this area corresponds to the available wind energy potential of Iğdır Province. In this map, the colour of pink and red is very important because the colour shows that the colour is the most suitable field for wind energy. The red colour shows about 602 km2 of more convenient places.

The following results were obtained in studies using GISLayer.

First of all, all data is based on the WGS84 coordinate system. The grid coordinate was created using the European Datum 1950 Zone 35.

Digital Elevation Model (Raster Data) was prepared in GISLayer via using its tools.

Then the slope and direction of the terrain and elevation surface are visualized with the hill shadings

For information on using GISLayer tools, visit the GISLayer YouTube channel.

Geological formation data (Feature Class) map was created again using GISLayer tools

Follow the tutorials on our website about using GISLayer tools

Main transformer Locations (Feature Class) are marked

Slope Analysis Map

Aspect data is also created with the GISLayer tools using the digital elevation model.

Information about the tools used is available both in the training on our website and in the videos on our YouTube channel.

The effect of the parameters taken into account as well as the methods used in determining the most suitable location for wind power plants has an important role. In other words, if the parameters that are effective in determining the location selection are chosen correctly, it can be said that the maps to be produced will be more representative and/or better reflective of the current situation.

In this study;

  • Wind speed

  • Height

  • Slope

  • Aspect

  • Geological Formations

  • Nearby Streams, Rivers, Roads, Ponds, etc Whether or not

  • Lithology

  • The Distance to the Substations

Criteria are used in determining the sites if suitable WPP(Wind Power Plant) can be established or not.

Since the Wind Power Plant area is not on the bird migration route (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry 2020), the distance to migration routes parameter was not used in the analysis

Necessary economic and environmental analyzes are made according to wind speed and wind power density, and it is understood whether the wind power plant is beneficial or not (Yıldırım et al. 2012).

In this context, the following information has been used for the average wind speed distribution at an altitude of 100 m, determined by the General Directorate of Energy Affairs of the study area

(annual average wind speed distribution)

​Min Wind Speed (m/s)


Max Wind Speed (m/s)


Awarage Wind Speed (m/s)




Standard deviation


( )

For information on using GISLayer tools, visit the GISLayer YouTube channel. Also, do not forget to follow our training under the Support menu on our website. For example, you can review our training content named "Creating the Elevation Profile of the Surface" in order to extract the earth's elevation profile of the region you want

The current situation of wind plants in Turkey

A wind atlas of Turkey published by the Turkish Energy Market Regulatory Agency (EPDK) in May 2002 indicates that the regions with the highest potential for wind speeds at height of 50 m are the Aegean, Marmara, and Eastern Mediterranean regions of Turkey, as well as some mountainous regions of central Anatolia

Turkey supplies more than half of its energy requirement by importing energy from other countries. Additionally, one of the most important environmental concerns due to imported fossil fuel consumption is air pollution

In terms of renewable energy resources availabilityTurkey has a great advantage due to its geographical location.

Turkey currently operates a total of 239 wind energy power plants, the country has 41 wind farms under construction with a total of 9,305 MW. Electricity Production Rate from Wind Energy in 2020 is about %8,44( ).

According to Turkey’s Energy and Natural Sources Ministry, the wind energy potential of Turkey has been estimated as 48,000 MW.(March 29, 2020)

According to TUREB’s (Turkish Wind Energy Association) report by 2020, more than 75% of wind farms are located in the Aegean and Marmara regions of Turkey. 12.3% of wind farms are located in the Mediterranean region. The remaining rest are located in different parts of the country.

The Izmir province in the Aegean region saw the most installed wind power capacity with 1,549 MW, while Balikesir ranked second with 1,363 MW and Manisa in Western Turkey followed in third place with 689,9 MW



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