Effect of the Integral Length Scales of Turbulent Inflows on Wind Turbine Loads

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As wind turbines become larger, the fluctuations in the inflow become increasingly influential in the turbine structural loading. These fluctuations are characterized by the integral length scale, which represents the average size of the largest energy-containing turbulent eddies. Current design standards neglect the varying integral length scales that characterize inflows of wind turbines in operation. Using large-eddy simulations, we generate turbulent inflows of varying integral length scales and quantify the loads of the IEA 15-MW reference wind turbine. Results illustrate that the impact of turbulence on rotor and tower loads is up to 10 times greater than the impact of the mean shear profile. Increasing integral length scales from 0.3x to 0.5x the rotor diameter reduces blade root flapwise moments and rotor and tower loads. Increasing integral length scales from 0.5x to 1.7x the rotor diameter increases the rotor aerodynamic thrust force and the blade root flapwise shear loads and decreases the tower base torsional moment and the tilting and yawing rotor aerodynamic moments. Additionally, turbulence intensity has a greater impact on wind turbine loads than integral length scales. Findings indicate that design standards should consider varying integral length scales for accurate wind turbine loading characterization in turbulent inflow conditions.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number119218
Number of pages13
JournalRenewable Energy
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-86746


  • Atmospheric boundary layer
  • Fatigue loads
  • Large-eddy simulations
  • Turbulence
  • Wind energy


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