Earthquake Response Modeling for a Parked and Operating Megawatt-Scale Wind Turbine

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Demand parameters for turbines, such as tower moment demand, are primarily driven by wind excitation and dynamics associated with operation. For that purpose, computational simulation platforms have been developed, such as FAST, maintained by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). For seismically active regions, building codes also require the consideration of earthquake loading.Historically, it has been common to use simple building code approaches to estimate the structural demand from earthquake shaking, as an independent loading scenario. Currently, International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) design requirements include the consideration of earthquake shaking while the turbine is operating. Numerical and analytical tools used to consider earthquake loads forbuildings and other static civil structures are not well suited for modeling simultaneous wind and earthquake excitation in conjunction with operational dynamics. Through the addition of seismic loading capabilities to FAST, it is possible to simulate earthquake shaking in the time domain, which allows consideration of non-linear effects such as structural nonlinearities, aerodynamic hysteresis,control system influence, and transients. This paper presents a FAST model of a modern 900-kW wind turbine, which is calibrated based on field vibration measurements. With this calibrated model, both coupled and uncoupled simulations are conducted looking at the structural demand for the turbine tower. Response is compared under the conditions of normal operation and potential emergency shutdowndue the earthquake induced vibrations. The results highlight the availability of a numerical tool for conducting such studies, and provide insights into the combined wind-earthquake loading mechanism.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages14
StatePublished - 2010

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-48242


  • analysis of earthquake loads
  • demand parameters
  • earthquake loading
  • fast
  • wind turbines


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