Wind Farm Simulation and Layout Optimization in Complex Terrain: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This work reports on incorporating complex terrain into wind farm simulations for the purpose of layout optimization. Adding complex terrain boundary conditions to NREL's medium fidelity computational fluid dynamics model, WindSE, produces significant separation, flow curvature, and speedup effects that would otherwise be difficult to capture with lower-fidelity models or a flat-terrain assumption. These flow features, in turn, can significantly impact the optimal turbine array layout. We demonstrate the impact of complex terrain on flow in both an idealized and real-world setting, and discuss modifications to the code that enable gradient-based optimization using terrain-aware adjoint gradients. Through several optimization case studies, we show that the layout optimization process takes advantage of speedup effects on terrain high points, and leverages flow curvature effects that modify wake trajectories. This yields substantial power improvements over gridded layouts, and hints at future research directions in simulation and optimization for wake trajectories in complex terrain.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2020
EventNorth American Wind Energy Academy (NAWEA)/WindTech 2019 - Amherst, Massachusetts
Duration: 14 Oct 201916 Oct 2019


ConferenceNorth American Wind Energy Academy (NAWEA)/WindTech 2019
CityAmherst, Massachusetts

Bibliographical note

See NREL/JA-5000-77146 for paper as published in proceedings

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-2C00-75033


  • CFD
  • complex terrain
  • optimization
  • wind farms


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