The current IEC standard for wind turbine power performance measurement only requires measurement of the wind speed at hub height assuming this wind speed to be representative for the whole rotor swept area. However, the power output of a wind turbine depends on the kinetic energy flux, which itself depends on the wind speed profile, especially for large turbines. Therefore, it is important to characterize the wind profile in front of the turbine, and this should be preferably achieved by measuring the wind speed over the vertical range between lower and higher rotor tips.
In this paper, we describe an experiment in which wind speed profiles were measured in front of a multimegawatt turbine using a ground–based pulsed lidar. Ignoring the vertical shear was shown to overestimate the kinetic energy flux of these profiles, in particular for those deviating significantly from a power law profile. As a consequence, the power curve obtained for these deviant profiles was different from that obtained for the ‘near power law’ profiles. An equivalent wind speed based on the kinetic energy derived from the measured wind speed profile was then used to plot the performance curves. The curves obtained for the two kinds of profiles were very similar, corresponding to a significant reduction of the scatter for an undivided data set. This new method for power curve measurement results in a power curve less sensitive to shear. It is therefore expected to eventually reduce the power curve measurement uncertainty and improve the annual energy production estimation. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.