Can Lidars Assess Wind Plant Blockage in Simple Terrain? A WRF-LES Study: Article No. 063303

Miguel Sanchez Gomez, Julie Lundquist, Jeffrey Mirocha, Robert Arthur, Domingo Munoz-Esparza, Rachel Robey

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5 Scopus Citations


Wind plant blockage reduces wind velocity upstream of wind plants, reducing the power generated by turbines adjacent to the inflow, and potentially throughout the plant as well. The nature of the mechanism that amplifies blockage as well as the velocity reductions in both the induction zone and potentially deeper into the array are not well understood. Field observations can provide valuable insight into the characteristics of the induction zone and the mechanisms that amplify it. However, the relatively small velocity reductions that have been measured experimentally pose a challenge in quantifying blockage, especially in onshore environments with flow heterogeneities that may be of the same scale as the blockage effect itself. We simulate the flow around the King Plains wind plant in the relatively simple terrain of Oklahoma, the location of the American WAKE experimeNt, to evaluate wind plant blockage in this environment. Using numerical simulations, we find the largest velocity deceleration (0.64 m s-1; 8%) immediately upstream of the wind plant, and 1% velocity deficits 24 rotor diameters upstream of the first turbine row. We also use virtual measurements upstream of the wind plant to analyze the uncertainties and difficulties in measuring blockage using a scanning lidar on shore. Based on our virtual lidar study, the induction zone of land-based wind plants can be incorrectly estimated using observations if the effects of nonuniform terrain on the flow are not carefully considered. Changes in terrain elevation produce local variations in wind speed (as measured by a scanning lidar) that exceed in magnitude the deceleration within the induction zone. We refer to these local changes in wind speed as terrain effects. A methodology to differentiate between terrain effects and blockage in experimental settings is proposed and evaluated herein, highlighting the difficulties and uncertainties associated with measurement and simulation of blockage in even relatively simple onshore environments.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-83383


  • lidar
  • wind plant blockage


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