Chapter 6: Modeling and Simulation of Wind-Farm Flows

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The subject of this chapter is the modeling and simulation of the flow through full wind farms, also known as wind plants, which are collections of many wind turbines within a region working together to supply power to the grid like any other type of power plant. This topic is interesting and exciting because of the increasing variety of and uses for wind plant flow modeling and simulation. For example, Figure 6.1 shows the computed flow field from a high-fidelity simulation of the Lillgrund offshore wind farm using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) with large-eddy simulation (LES) turbulence modeling and actuator line rotor aerodynamics models. There are many ways to model this type of flow, ranging from very simple models of wind turbine wakes and their interactions that can run in a matter of seconds on a laptop to high-fidelity, turbulence -resolving LES of the atmospheric flow and wakes that require days of use of thousands of cores on a high-performance computing cluster. The uses of wind plant flow simulations are equally varied. Wind plant layout designers run hundreds or thousands of simulations over all possible wind directions and speeds using simple models to predict a future wind plant's annual energy production. Researchers use LESs of the wind plant to study phenomena such as wind turbine wake interactions with each other and with the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL). As computational resources become more readily available, it is even becoming common for turbine manufacturers to use CFD of some form to model wind plants in complex terrain to help in the wind turbine siting and selection process. We are beginning to see the expensive, high-fidelity tools being used to create data and knowledge that improves or enables the creation of new cheaper, lower fidelity tools. We are also beginning to see the low- and high-fidelity tools used together to perform uncertainty quantification of energy estimates and optimization of wind plant layouts. As new computing technologies mature, such as graphics processing unit (GPU)-based computing, the future of full wind plant flow modeling is exciting.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationWind Energy Modeling and Simulation: Volume 1: Atmosphere and Plant
Subtitle of host publicationIET Energy Engineering Series, Volume 125
EditorsP. Veers
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CH-5000-72791


  • wind farm modeling
  • wind plant modeling
  • wind turbine wakes


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