Wind Turbine Power Production and Annual Energy Production Depend on Atmospheric Stability and Turbulence

Andrew Clifton, Julie Lundquist, Clara Martin, Gregory Poulos, Scott Schreck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus Citations


Using detailed upwind and nacelle-based measurements from a General Electric [GE] 1.5 sle model with a 77 m rotor diameter, we calculated power curves and annual energy production (AEP) and explored their sensitivity to different atmospheric parameters. This work provides guidelines for the use of stability and turbulence filters in segregating power curves to gain a clearer picture of the power performance of a turbine. The wind measurements upwind of the turbine include anemometers mounted on a 135 m meteorological tower and lidar vertical profiles. We calculated power curves for different regimes based on turbulence parameters such as turbulence intensity (TI) and turbulence kinetic energy (TKE), as well as atmospheric stability parameters such as Bulk Richardson number (RB). AEP was also calculated with and without these atmospheric filters and differences between these calculations are highlighted in this article. The power curves for different TI and TKE regimes revealed that, at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), increased TI and TKE undermined power production at wind speeds near rated, but increased power production at lower wind speeds. Similarly, power curves for different RB regimes revealed that periods of stable conditions produced more power at wind speeds near rated and periods of unstable conditions produced more power at lower wind speeds. AEP results suggest that calculations done without filtering for these atmospheric regimes may be overestimating the AEP. Because of statistically significant differences between power curves and AEP calculated with these turbulence and stability filters for this turbine at this site, we suggest implementing an additional step in analyzing power performance data to take atmospheric stability and turbulence across the rotor disk into account.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)221-236
Number of pages16
JournalWind Energy Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

See NREL/JA-5D00-72622 for article as published in Wind Energy Science Discussions

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5D00-66360


  • annual energy production
  • atmospheric stability
  • power curve
  • turbulence intensity
  • wind energy


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