The environment-friendly development of wind power is complicated as the atmospheric impacts of wind farms are difficult to measure. Wind power has made contributions to emission reduction, but it is undeniable that the substantial wind farms (SWFs) have had a non-negligible impact on the local ABL. This paper aims to provide a reliable methodological scheme and practical data for human beings to objectively understand the development of wind power. Based on the data from one of the Chinese gigawatt-scale wind power bases in Zhangbei County of Hebei Province, the mesoscale simulations were conducted to explore the impacts of substantial wind farms on the local and regional atmosphere. The results show that: (i) the impact of substantial wind farms on the local area is significant and sustained, while this impact on the regional area is slight and occasional; (ii) it can bring about the seasonal and diurnal differences in the local ABL property; (iii) it can not only induce the horizontal turbulence directly caused by wind turbine wake flow, but also produce the vertical mixing in the near-surface ABL. A systematic analysis of wind power potential and its atmospheric impact is urgent to ensure sustainable development of wind power.
- Wind power brings significant and sustained local atmospheric impacts.
- The WRF model coupled with WTDP is capable to explore such impacts.
- Filling the gaps in the practical assessment of gigawatt-scale wind power.
- The seasonal and diurnal impacts of SWFs are quantitatively assessed.