American WAKE experimeNt (AWAKEN)

Patrick Moriarty, Nicholas Hamilton, Mithu Debnath, Tommy Herges, Brad Isom, Julie Lundquist, David Maniaci, Brian Naughton, Rebecca Pauly, Jason Roadman, Will Shaw, Jeroen van Dam, Sonia Wharton

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The national laboratories directed by the Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Energy Technologies Office (WETO) will organize, design and execute a landmark international wake observation and validation campaign, the American Wake Experiment or AWAKEN. This document describes the vision and purpose for the AWAKEN, and describes some of the organizational activities that have taken place to date. The driving need for this experimental campaign is that wake interactions are among the least understood physical phenomena in wind plants today, leading to unexpected power and financial losses. New observation data gathered will be used to further validate wind plant models and lead to both improved layout and more optimal operation of wind farms with greater power production and improved reliability, ultimately leading to lower wind energy costs. The campaign will occur in the US Midwest, where the largest concentration of wind farms is located and where significant future growth is most likely. The field campaign will provide a data set that is unique among wake studies based on location, scope and observational fidelity: most wake studies have largely focused on offshore wind farms, which are not currently critical to the US wind energy supply, and with limited amount of observations. And while AWAKEN is focused on land-based wind farms in flat terrain, many of the observations will help researchers understand fundamental wake behavior applicable in both offshore and complex terrain environments.Project organization has begun, with initial kickoff meetings to stimulate interest in the community and prioritize science goals that a new wake field campaign can and should accomplish. The design of the experimental campaign will rely on the successful collaborative model based on one used within the New European Wind Atlas. Leading up to the experiment, DOE-funded researchers will assist interested participants with developing proposals for individual external funding agencies to build a large collaborative team funded through multiple sources. The AWAKEN team will include industry members such as wind farm owners who wish to learn more about wake impacts within their wind farms, turbine manufacturers who want to study turbine response in wind farm environments, and observational measurement companies with a desire to demonstrate their own sensing technology applied to the wind energy wake problem. The national labs are uniquely suited to assemble the international team to perform the observational and model validation campaign envisioned.Researchers will narrow their experimental design and select a site that will fulfill the critical science goals identified by the international group of experts. Once a site has been identified, numerical studies of the potential observation campaign will be conducted to give researchers a sense of quantities that can be observed and to what resolution in the weather situations typical of this location. These simulations will also assist researchers to identify optimal placement of instruments for the greatest potential benefit towards validation of numerical models. Concurrently, researchers will develop a roadmap for advanced microscale sensing technologies to improve observational capabilities of complex flow fields within wind plants. The expert-driven roadmap will guide the multi-year effort to advance remote sensing technologies specifically for wind energy applications. New sensing technologies will be simulated, and potentially prototyped for use in the AWAKEN campaign once sufficient measurement quality and reliability is achieved. With all partners in place, the experiment will be executed through an iterative process of observation and model validation focused primarily on the important wake science goals outlined in planning meetings. Researchers will develop new model validation benchmarks that will be used internationally to improve a wide range of wind plant models worldwide.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages44
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-75789


  • field observation
  • modeling
  • wind plant


Dive into the research topics of 'American WAKE experimeNt (AWAKEN)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this