In order to effectively realize future goals for wind energy, the efficiency of wind turbines must increase beyond existing technology. One direct method for achieving increased efficiency is by improving the individual power generation characteristics of horizontal axis wind turbines. The potential for additional improvement by traditional approaches is diminishing rapidly however. As a result, a research program was undertaken to assess the potential of using distributed flow control to increase power generation. The overall objective was the development of validated aerodynamic simulations and flow control approaches to improve wind turbine power generation characteristics. BEM analysis was conducted for a general set of wind turbine models encompassing last, current, and next generation designs. This analysis indicated that rotor lift control applied in Region II of the turbine power curve would produce a notable increase in annual power generated. This was achieved by optimizing induction factors along the rotor blade for maximum power generation.
In order to demonstrate this approach and other advanced concepts, the University of Notre Dame established the Laboratory for Enhanced Wind Energy Design (eWiND). This initiative includes a fully instrumented meteorological tower and two pitch-controlled wind turbines. The wind turbines are representative in their design and operation to larger multi-megawatt turbines, but of a scale that allows rotors to be easily instrumented and replaced to explore new design concepts. Baseline data detailing typical site conditions and turbine operation is presented.
To realize optimized performance, lift control systems were designed and evaluated in CFD simulations coupled with shape optimization tools. These were integrated into a systematic design methodology involving BEM simulations, CFD simulations and shape optimization, and selected experimental validation. To refine and illustrate the proposed design methodology, a complete design cycle was performed for the turbine model incorporated in the wind energy lab. Enhanced power generation was obtained through passive trailing edge shaping aimed at reaching lift and lift-to-drag goals predicted to optimize performance. These targets were determined by BEM analysis to improve power generation characteristics and annual energy production (AEP) for the wind turbine. A preliminary design was validated in wind tunnel experiments on a 2D rotor section in preparation for testing in the full atmospheric environment of the eWiND Laboratory. These tests were performed for the full-scale geometry and atmospheric conditions. Upon making additional improvements to the shape optimization tools, a series of trailing edge additions were designed to optimize power generation. The trailing edge additions were predicted to increase the AEP by up to 4.2% at the White Field site. The pieces were rapid-prototyped and installed on the wind turbine in March, 2014. Field tests are ongoing.