From a distance, a wind farm can seem almost placid, turbines turning slowly, steadily, churning out electricity. But there’s more to it than meets the eye.
The wind, though it can seem consistent, often has varying degrees of turbulence that have an impact on wind turbine performance. As the wind heats and cools over the course of the day, a wind farm’s turbines interact in ways that reduce performance and add to structural loads on the turbines, increasing maintenance costs and the overall cost of wind energy.
Researchers at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are learning how to better understand these issues and are working toward effective solutions for the wind industry. Their goal is to maximize turbine performance and minimize structural loads, which ultimately will result in lower-cost wind energy. Toward that goal, NREL researchers leverage the lab’s supercomputing resources and have developed high-tech modeling and simulation capabilities.