Simulating Effects of a Wind-Turbine Array using LES and RANS

Julie Lundquist, Brian Vanderwende, Branko Kosovic, Jeffrey Mirocha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus Citations


Growth in wind power production has motivated investigation of wind-farm impacts on in situ flow fields and downstream interactions with agriculture and other wind farms. These impacts can be simulated with both large-eddy simulations (LES) and mesoscale wind-farm parameterizations (WFP). The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model offers both approaches. We used the validated generalized actuator disk (GAD) parameterization in WRF-LES to assess WFP performance. A 12-turbine array was simulated using the GAD model and the WFP in WRF. We examined the performance of each scheme in both convective and stable conditions. The GAD model and WFP produced qualitatively similar wind speed deficits and turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) production across the array in both stability regimes, though the magnitudes of velocity deficits and TKE production levels were underestimated and overestimated, respectively. While wake growth slowed in the latter half of the WFP array as expected, wakes did not approach steady state by the end of the array as simulated by the GAD model. A sensitivity test involving the deactivation of explicit TKE production by the WFP resulted in turbulence levels within the array well that were below those produced by the GAD in both stable and unstable conditions. Finally, the WFP overestimated downwind power production deficits in stable conditions because of the lack of wake stabilization in the latter half of the array.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1376-1390
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-70007


  • actuator-disk model
  • LES
  • RANS
  • turbine wakes
  • wind-farm parameterization
  • WRF


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