Learning from nature. Fish inspire wind farm configuration - physicsworld.com Conventional wind turbines work best when located as far as possible from the destructive vortices of neighbouring turbines. However, a pair of scientists in the US have worked out that the performance of other kinds of turbine actually improves when they are placed close to one another, concluding that wind farms could therefore be made much smaller than they are today. The familiar propeller-like turbine with a horizontal axis of rotation can convert 50% or more of the energy from the wind that it is exposed to. In a wind farm, however, the wake from one turbine will disturb the air reaching the blades of its neighbours meaning that turbines must be placed far apart. Typically, to ensure that it generates about 90% of the power that it would in isolation, a turbine must be placed about three rotor diameters from its nearest lateral neighbours and around 10 rotor diameters from the turbine downstream. For a rotor with a diameter of 100 m this latter figure becomes 1 km a considerable distance.