Combined optimization of a wind farm and a well field for wind-enabled groundwater production

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Energy requirements constitute a significant cost in groundwater production and can also add to a large carbon footprint when fossil fuels are used for power. Wind-enabled water production is advantageous as it minimizes air pollution impacts associated with groundwater production and relies on a renewable resource. Also, as groundwater extraction represents a deferrable load (i.e., it can be carried out when energy demands within an area are low), it provides a convenient way to overcome the intermittency issue associated with wind power production. Multiple turbine wind farms are needed to generate large quantities of power needed for large-scale groundwater production. Turbines must be optimally located in these farms to ensure proper propagation of kinetic energy throughout the system. By the same token, well placement must reconcile the competing objectives of minimizing interferences between production wells while ensuring the drawdowns at the property boundary are within acceptable limits. A combined simulation-optimization based model is developed in this study to optimize the combined wind energy and water production systems. The wind farm layout optimization model is solved using a re-sampling strategy, while the well field configuration is obtained using the simulated annealing technique. The utility of the developed model is to study wind-enabled water production in San Patricio County, TX. Sensitivity analysis indicated that identifying optimal placement of turbines is vital to extract maximum wind power. The variability of the wind speeds has a critical impact on the amount of water that can be produced. Innovative technologies such as variable flow pumping devices and aquifer storage recovery must be used to smooth out wind variability. While total groundwater extraction is less sensitive to uncertainty in hydrogeological parameters, improper estimation of aquifer transmissivity and storage characteristics can affect the feasibility of wind-driven groundwater production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2687-2699
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Brackish groundwater
  • Energy
  • Total dissolved solids
  • Water energy nexus


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