Challenges in modelling the unsteady aerodynamics of wind turbines


  • J. Gordon Leishman

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Aerospace Engineering, Glenn L. Martin Institute of Technology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
    • Department of Aerospace Engineering, 3179C Glenn L. Martin Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
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  • Keynote Address presented at the 21st ASME Wind Energy Symposium, Reno, NV, USA, 14–17 January 2002.


Many of the aerodynamic phenomena contributing to the observed effects on wind turbines are now known, but the details of the flow are still poorly understood and are challenging to predict accurately. This article emphasizes two key areas that need continued serious consideration for wind turbine predictive analyses: the modelling of the rotor wake and the modelling of the unsteady aerodynamics of the blade sections. Issues discussed herein include the modelling of the induced velocity field produced by the vortical wake behind the turbine, the various unsteady aerodynamic issues associated with the blade sections, and the non-linear intricacies of dynamic stall. Fundamental limits exist in the capabilities of all models, and ambiguities can also arise in how these models should be properly applied. A challenge for analysts of the future is to use complementary experimental measurements and modelling techniques to better understand the aerodynamic problems found on wind turbines, and to develop more rigorous models with wider ranges of application. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.