Aerodynamic Rotor Design for a 25 MW Offshore Downwind Turbine: Article No. 122035

Michael Jeong, Eric Loth, Chris Qin, Michael Selig, Nick Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Continuously increasing offshore wind turbine scales require rotor designs that maximize power and performance. Downwind rotors offer advantages in lower mass due to reduced potential for tower strike, and is especially true at large scales, e.g., for a 25 MW turbine. In this study, three 25 MW downwind rotors, each with different prescribed lift coefficient distributions were designed (chord, geometry, and twist) and compared to maximize power production at unprecedented scales and Reynolds numbers, including a new approach to optimize rotor tilt and coning based on aeroelastic effects. To achieve this objective the design process was focused on achieving high power coefficients, while maximizing swept area and minimizing blade mass. Maximizing swept area was achieved by prescribing pre-cone and shaft tilt angles to ensure the aeroelastic orientation when the blades point upwards was nearly vertical at nearly rated conditions. Maximizing the power coefficient was achieved by prescribing axial induction factor and lift coefficient distributions which were then used as inputs for an inverse rotor design tool. The resulting rotors were then simulated to compare performance and subsequently optimized for minimum rotor mass. To achieve these goals, a high Reynolds number design space was developed using computational predictions as well as new empirical correlations for flatback airfoil drag and maximum lift. Within this design space, three rotors of small, medium and large chords were considered for clean airfoil conditions (effects of premature transition were also considered but did not significantly modify the design space). The results indicated that the medium chord design provided the best performance, producing the highest power in Region 2 from simulations while resulting in the lowest rotor mass, both of which support minimum LCOE. The methodology developed herein can be used for the design of other extreme-scale (upwind and downwind) turbines.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Energy
Issue numberPart A
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-82465


  • downwind rotors
  • extreme-scale wind turbines
  • offshore wind energy
  • wind turbine aerodynamics
  • wind turbine design parameters
  • wind turbine rotor design


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