Influence of wake dynamics on the performance and aeroelasticity of wind turbines


We enhance the comprehensive NREL FAST code to include wake dynamics using a free vortex wake model.

We assess the enhanced code relative to experiments and CFD in terms of rotor lift distribution and power.

We also examine the combined effect of wake dynamics and inflow turbulence on aeroelastic response and power prediction.


Wind turbines are currently a rapidly expanding form of renewable energy. However, there are numerous technological challenges that must be overcome before wind energy provides a significant amount of power in the United States. One of the primary challenges in wind turbine design and analysis is accurately accounting for the aerodynamic environment. This study is focused on a comprehensive verification and validation of the NREL FAST code, which is enhanced to include a free vortex wake model. The verification and validation is carried out through a comparison of blade lift distribution, wind turbine power and force and moment coefficients using a combination of CFD and experimental data. The results are also compared against Blade Element Momentum theory, and results from a 2001 double-blind NREL study on the prediction capabilities of wind turbine modeling tools. Results indicate that the enhanced aeroelastic code generally provides improved predictions. However, in several notable cases the predictions are only marginally improved, or even worse, than those generated using Blade Element Momentum theory aerodynamics. It is concluded that modeling of the aerodynamic environment remains incomplete, even after inclusion of wake effects. One important aspect identified is modeling of the unsteady aerodynamic lift characteristics of the rotor. Finally, the aeroelastic response in the combined presence of wake effects and inflow turbulence is examined. Significant differences are observed in loads, power, and structural response between results computed using the free wake model or simpler models, such as Blade Element Momentum theory.


  • Wind energy;
  • Wind turbine;
  • Wake;
  • Aeroelasticity;
  • Aerodynamic modeling

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