Challenges in Rotor Aerodynamic Modeling for Non-Uniform Inflow Conditions: Article No. 022006

K. Boorsma, J. G. Schepers, G. Pirrung, H. Madsen, N. Sorensen, C. Grinderslev, G. Bangga, M. Imiela, A. Croce, S. Cacciola, F. Blondel, E. Branlard, J. Jonkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Within an international collaboration framework, the accuracy of rotor aerodynamic models used for design load calculations of wind turbines is being assessed. Where the use of high-fidelity computation fluid dynamics (CFD) and mid-fidelity free-vortex wake (FVW) models has become commonplace within the wind energy community, these still fail to meet the requirements in terms of execution time and computational cost needed for design load calculations. The fast but engineering fidelity blade-element/momentum (BEM) method can therefore still be considered the industry workhorse for design load simulations. At the same time, upscaling of wind turbine rotors makes inflow non-uniformities (e.g. shear, veer, turbulence) more important. The objective of this work is to assess model accuracy in non-uniform inflow conditions, which violate several BEM assumptions. Thereto a comparison in turbulent inflow has been executed including a wide variety of codes, focusing on the DanAero field measurements, where a 2.3-MW turbine was equipped with, among other sensors, a pressure measurement apparatus. The results indicate that, although average load patterns are in good agreement, this does not hold for the unsteady loads that drive fatigue damage and aero-elastic stability. A simplified comparison round in vertical shear was initiated to investigate the observed differences in a more controlled manner. A consistent offset in load amplitude was observed between CFD and free-vortex codes on the one hand and BEM-type codes on the other hand. To shed more light on the observations, dedicated efforts are ongoing to pinpoint the cause for these differences, in the end leading to guidelines for an improved BEM implementation.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Physics: Conference Series
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-88979


  • blade element/momentum
  • computational fluid dynamics
  • DanAero
  • free vortex wake
  • nonuniform inflow
  • rotor aerodynamics
  • shear


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