In engineering and physics in general, you can never be certain about something unless you test it in real life or at least until you run a simulation. An example that illustrates that perfectly comes from a recent discovery that breaking the wind on the ground before it enters the area of a wind farm could actually increase the energy-generation performance of the turbines by about 10%.
Naturally, one would assume that reducing wind speed with windbreaks would result in robbing kinetic energy that would otherwise be available for conversion to electricity once it hit the turbine blades. However, if the wind flow is disrupted at the ground level, a higher-pressure flurry will form on the layer above, which is where the turbine blades are. The scientists found that the ideal results would be achieved if the windbreak has one-tenth of the turbine’s total height, and five times the blade diameter in length.
The shape also plays a key role in that as windbreak structures could come in various shapes, but it appears that squares are the best choice since they create enough disruption but don’t redirect the airflow elsewhere. Of course, the scientists tested every possible iteration to figure out the best approach, and the arrangement they came with was the equivalent of adding one more turbine for every set of ten, with minimal cost and almost no maintenance needs at all.
As for the application limitations, the wind must always come from the same direction otherwise placing a fixed windbreak wouldn’t make much practical sense. This means that this novel approach could be helpful in offshore wind farms or places, where the way wind tends to blow, is relatively stable and predictable. Possibly, varying directions could be accommodated by upgraded or more sophisticated future designs, but adding any form of kinetic or adjustment systems would increase the complexity of the windbreak element, and thus its cost.