Chapter 6: Wind Turbine Control Design

Alan Wright, Paul Fleming, Lucy Pao, Kathryn Johnson, Jan-Willem Wingerden, Andrew Scholbrock

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, the author introduced wind turbine control, discussing sensors and actuators, operating regions, and the operational controller loops. The author then described the different levels of models needed in the controller development process, emphasizing that the models needed for control design are a simplification of the detailed models used in control simulation testing. Scripts used in conjunction with MATLAB are used to synthesize the controller, and detailed models are used for controller simulations. We described the design of the basic operational controller based on simplified models, including the generator torque controller for optimizing energy capture, and the blade pitch controller for regulating turbine speed (or power). The author described how to account for the effects of turbine nonlinearities and actuator dynamics and saturation. We then gave an overview of modern state-space control design methods, which are useful when designing a controller to meet multiple control objectives. The author also described a variety of advanced multivariable control methods. The author gave an overview of the use of advanced sensors (such as lidar sensors for upwind wind-speed measurements) and actuators (outboard blade aerodynamic devices used in 'smart' blade technology). The use of individual blade pitch, although not considered an advanced actuator, was also described. The author concluded with some special control issues for offshore floating systems.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationWind Energy Modeling and Simulation, Volume 2: Turbine and System
Subtitle of host publicationIET Energy Engineering Series, Volume 125
EditorsP. Veers
StatePublished - 2019

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CH-5000-71405


  • advanced multivariable control methods
  • basic operational controller
  • control simulation testing
  • energy capture
  • generator torque controller
  • multiple control objectives
  • operating regions
  • operational controller loops
  • state-space control design methods
  • turbine power regulation
  • turbine speed regulation
  • wind turbine control design


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