Atmospheric Stability Impacts on Power Curves of Tall Wind Turbines - An Analysis of a West Coast North American Wind Farm

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Tall wind turbines, with hub heights at 80 m or above, can extract large amounts of energy from the atmosphere because they are likely to encounter higher wind speeds, but they face challenges given the complex nature of wind flow and turbulence at these heights in the boundary layer. Depending on whether the boundary layer is stable, neutral, or convective, the mean wind speed, direction, and turbulence properties may vary greatly across the tall turbine swept area (40 to 120 m AGL). This variability can cause tall turbines to produce difference amounts of power during time periods with identical hub ... continued below

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PDF-file: 75 pages; size: 6.1 Mbytes

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Wharton, S & Lundquist, J K February 22, 2010.

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Tall wind turbines, with hub heights at 80 m or above, can extract large amounts of energy from the atmosphere because they are likely to encounter higher wind speeds, but they face challenges given the complex nature of wind flow and turbulence at these heights in the boundary layer. Depending on whether the boundary layer is stable, neutral, or convective, the mean wind speed, direction, and turbulence properties may vary greatly across the tall turbine swept area (40 to 120 m AGL). This variability can cause tall turbines to produce difference amounts of power during time periods with identical hub height wind speeds. Using meteorological and power generation data from a West Coast North American wind farm over a one-year period, our study synthesizes standard wind park observations, such as wind speed from turbine nacelles and sparse meteorological tower observations, with high-resolution profiles of wind speed and turbulence from a remote sensing platform, to quantify the impact of atmospheric stability on power output. We first compare approaches to defining atmospheric stability. The standard, limited, wind farm operations enable the calculation only of a wind shear exponent ({alpha}) or turbulence intensity (I{sub U}) from cup anemometers, while the presence at this wind farm of a SODAR enables the direct observation of turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) throughout the turbine rotor disk. Additionally, a nearby research meteorological station provided observations of the Obukhov length, L, a direct measure of atmospheric stability. In general, the stability parameters {alpha}, I{sub U}, and TKE are in high agreement with the more physically-robust L, with TKE exhibiting the best agreement with L. Using these metrics, data periods are segregated by stability class to investigate power performance dependencies. Power output at this wind farm is highly correlated with atmospheric stability during the spring and summer months, while atmospheric stability exerts little impact on power output during the winter and autumn periods. During the spring and summer seasons, power output for a given wind speed was significantly higher during stable conditions and significantly lower during strongly convective conditions: power output differences approached 20% between stable and convective regimes. The dependency of stability on power output was apparent only when both turbulence and the shape of the wind speed profile were considered. Turbulence is one of the mechanisms by which atmospheric stability affects a turbine's power curve at this particular site, and measurements of turbulence can yield actionable insights into wind turbine behavior.

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PDF-file: 75 pages; size: 6.1 Mbytes

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  • Report No.: LLNL-TR-424425
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/973337 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 973337
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc928014

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  • February 22, 2010

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Nov. 22, 2016, 8:14 p.m.

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Wharton, S & Lundquist, J K. Atmospheric Stability Impacts on Power Curves of Tall Wind Turbines - An Analysis of a West Coast North American Wind Farm, report, February 22, 2010; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc928014/: accessed June 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.