Download the LEC research brochure as PDF (3.8 MB).
The unsteady wind profile in the atmospheric boundary layer upstream of a modern wind turbine is measured. The measurements are accomplishedusing a novel measurement approach that is comprised of an autonomous uninhabited aerial vehicle (UAV) that is equipped with a seven-sensor fast-response aerodynamic probe (F7S-UAV). The autonomous UAV enables high spatial resolution (~6.3% of rotor diameter) measurements, which hitherto have not been accomplished around full-scale wind turbines. The F7S-UAV probe developed at ETH Zurich is the key-enabling technology for the measurements. The time-averaged wind profile from the F7S-UAV probe is found to be in very good agreement to an independently measured profile using the UAV. This time-averaged profile, which is measured in moderately complex terrain, differs by as much as 30% from the wind profile that is extrapolated from a logarithmic height formula; therefore, the limited utility of extrapolated profiles, which are commonly used in site assessments, is made evident. The time-varying wind profiles show that at a given height,the velocity fluctuations can be as much as 44% of the time-averaged velocity, therefore indicating that there are substantial loads that may impact the fatigue life of the wind turbine's components. Furthermore, the shear in the velocity profile also subjects the fixed pitch blade to varying incidences and loading. Analysis of the associated velocity triangles indicates that the sectional lift coefficient at midspan of this modern turbine would vary by 12% in the measured time-averaged wind profile. These variations must be accounted in the structural design of the blades. Thus,the measurements of the unsteady wind profile accomplished with thisnovel measurement system demonstrate that it is a cost effectivecomplement to the suite of available site assessment measurement tools.
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