Direct Adaptive Control of Utility-Scale Wind Turbine for Speed Regulation

Susan A. Frost, Mark J. Balas, Alan D. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus Citations


The accurate modeling of wind turbines is an extremely challenging problem due to the tremendous complexity of the machines and the turbulent and unpredictable conditions in which they operate. Adaptive control techniques are well suited to nonlinear applications, such as wind turbines, which are difficult to accurately model and which have effects from poorly known operating environments. In this paper, we extended the direct model reference adaptive control (DMRAC) approach to track a reference point and to reject persistent disturbances. This approach was then used to design an adaptive collective pitch controller for a high-fidelity simulation of a variable-speed horizontal axis wind turbine. The objective of the adaptive pitch controller was to regulate generator speed in Region 3 and to reject step disturbances. The control objective was accomplished by collectively pitching the turbine blades. The turbine simulation models the controls advanced research turbine (CART) of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. The CART is a utility-scale wind turbine that has a well-developed and extensively verified simulator. This novel application of adaptive control was compared in simulations with a classical proportional integrator (PI) collective pitch controller. In the simulations, the adaptive pitch controller showed improved speed regulation in Region 3 when compared with the PI pitch controller.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)59-71
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Robust and Nonlinear Control
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-500-42888


  • Direct adaptive control
  • Disturbance rejection
  • Pitch control
  • Speed regulation
  • Wind turbine


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