Interaction of atmospheric boundary layer flow with wind turbines: theoretical and experimental studies

As wind turbines operate within the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL), the study of their interaction with the ABL flow can help us better understand and predict their performance. In addition to the performance of wind turbines, this interaction has an effect on the flow both upwind and downwind (i.e., wake region) of the turbines. In particular, the study of turbine wakes is of great importance because they are the main cause of power losses and fatigue loads in wind farms. In the current thesis, four studies are conducted to fully examine the turbine interaction with the ABL flow, with an emphasis on turbine wakes. In the first study, a new analytical wake model is proposed and validated to predict the wind velocity distribution in the far-wake region, where downwind turbines usually operate. The proposed model is derived by applying the conservation of mass and momentum and assuming a Gaussian distribution for the velocity deficit in the wake. This simple model only requires one parameter to predict the velocity distribution in the far wake of a wind turbine. In general, it is found that the velocity deficit in the wake predicted by the proposed analytical model is in good agreement with the experimental and numerical data. Furthermore, the results show that the new model predicts the power extracted by downwind wind turbines more accurately than other common analytical models, some of which are based on less accurate assumptions like considering a top-hat shape for the velocity deficit. In the second study, wind tunnel measurements are carried out to systematically investigate turbine wakes under yawed conditions. The detailed experimental data are used to perform a budget study of the continuity and Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes equations. This theoretical analysis reveals some notable features of the wakes of yawed turbines, such as the asymmetric distribution of the wake skew angle with respect to the wake center. Under highly yawed conditions, the formation of a counter-rotating vortex pair in the wake cross-section as well as the vertical displacement of the wake center are also shown and analyzed. Finally, this study enables us to develop general governing equations upon which a simple and computationally inexpensive analytical model is built. The proposed model aims at predicting the wake deflection and the far-wake velocity distribution for yawed turbines. The findings of this study can be especially useful to assess the possibility of optimizing wind-farm power production by controlling the yaw angle of the turbines. In the third study, comprehensive wind tunnel experiments are performed to study the interaction of a turbulent boundary layer with a wind turbine operating under different tip-speed ratios and yaw angles. Force and power measurements are performed to characterize the wind turbine performance. Moreover, a high-resolution stereoscopic particle-image velocimetry (S-PIV) system and hot-wire anemometry are used to study the flow in the upwind, near-wake and far-wake regions. This study provides new insights on the turbine and flow characteristics such as the evolution of tip vortices and wake meandering. Finally, the last study concerns the design and the performance analysis of a new three-bladed horizontal-axis miniature wind turbine with a rotor diameter of $15$ cm. Due to its small size, this turbine is particularly suitable for studies of wind farm flows and the interaction of the turbine with an incoming boundary-layer flow. Special emphasis is placed on accurate measurements of the mechanical power extracted by the miniature turbine from the incoming wind. In order to do so, a new setup is developed to measure the torque of the rotor shaft. The thrust and power coefficients of the miniature turbine are found to be around $0.8$ and $0.4$ in optimal conditions, respectively, which are close to the ones of large-scale turbines in the field.


Related material