Modeling the Yaw Behavior of Tail Fins for Small Wind Turbines: November 22, 2021 - May 21, 2024

Mohamed Hammam, David Wood, Brent Summerville, Brent Summerville (NREL Technical Monitor)

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


This report describes the aerodynamic modelling of the yaw behavior of tail fins for small wind turbines (SWTs). The analysis is based on unsteady slender body theory (USBT) and is formulated to be used with the proposed tail fin module to be added to OpenFAST. Linearized USBT, which has been applied in the past to SWT tail fins, is developed in three main ways. First, USBT is extended to high yaw angles and aspect ratios by modelling the associated nonlinear vortex dynamics and the chordwise load distribution respectively. Second, we consider the effect of time-varying wind speed. The extended theory is compared to recent unpublished measurements at the University of Perugia, Italy, for the yaw behavior of delta, elliptical, and rectangular tail fins without a rotor and nacelle. The fins were released from initial yaw angles of -40 degrees and -80 degrees ; the latter is of sufficient magnitude to show the importance of the nonlinear yaw dynamics. Further, the friction in the model tail fin bearings was measured and modelled. The constants in the aerodynamic models were taken from the literature but significant improvement in accuracy is achieved by using system identification techniques to optimize the values. This leads to the third main finding: extended USBT is accurate for all generic tail fin shapes that we considered and is, therefore, very suitable for inclusion in aeroelastic codes for SWTs. The final development is of a general nonlinear equation for yaw response that is simpler than the extended USBT and is also suitable for inclusion in OpenFAST. The two nonlinear models are used to highlight the geometric requirements for good tail fin design.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages59
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Port Said University, Port Said, Egypt and University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-5000-86044


  • distributed wind
  • modeling
  • OpenFAST
  • tail fin


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