Incorporating Complex Terrain Features in a Model of a Wind Farm

contour map of instantaneous downwind velocity

Engineers designing wind farms must consider the terrain features of the farm site in order to optimize its output. A form of computer modeling, large-eddy simulation (LES), shows promise as a way to simulate the complex features of such design.

MSI PI Fotis Sotiropoulos (adjunct professor, Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering and St. Anthony Falls Laboratory) and his MSI group member Dr. Xiaolei Yang have published results of a test of LES modeling of the Vantage wind farm operated by Invenergy in the state of Washington, USA. The test used the LES code Virtual Flow Simulation (VFS-Wind) developed by Professor Sotiropoulos and his co-workers and compared the simulation results with actual wind farm operational data. The simulations were in very good agreement with the field data both in terms of mean power generation and power statistics distribution within the wind farm. The authors also ran an engineering model without including terrain data, to show that incorporating terrain effects is critical for accurate simulations of utility-scale wind farms.

This is the first time a computer simulation code has been validated for a utility-scale wind farm in complex terrain using actual operational data. The paper can be found at: X. Yang, M. Pakula, F. Sotiropoulos. 2018. Large-eddy simulation of a utility-scale wind farm in complex terrain. Applied Energy 229: 767-777.

This research is related to work featured on the MSI website in October 2018 (An Improved Model for Simulating Wind Farms), which described an LES model that includes wind flow over turbine nacelles.

Professor Sotiropoulos and Dr. Yang are currently located at the Department of Civil Engineering at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. While located at the University of Minnesota, Professor Sotiropoulos was the Director of the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory during 2006 - 2015. Dr. Yang worked at SAFL as a post-doc and research associate. Several MSI PIs are members of SAFL, which celebrated its 80th anniversary in November 2018. Paper co-author Maggie Pakula works with wind-farm operator Invenergy Vantage.

Image description: Contour of instantaneous downwind velocity. Red and blue colors represent high and low wind speed, respectively. Vertical scale is exaggerated three times. Yang et al., Applied Energy 229: 767-777 (2018).

posted on January 16, 2019

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