A simulation study on risks to wind turbine arrays from thunderstorm downbursts in different atmospheric stability conditions

Nan You Lu, Lance Manuel*, Patrick Hawbecker, Sukanta Basu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

Thunderstorm downbursts have been reported to cause damage or failure to wind turbine arrays. We extend a large-eddy simulation model used in previous work to generate downburst-related inflow fields with a view toward defining correlated wind fields that all turbines in an array would experience together during a downburst. We are also interested in establishing what role contrasting atmospheric stability conditions can play on the structural demands on the turbines. This interest is because the evening transition period, when thunderstorms are most common, is also when there is generally acknowledged time-varying stability in the atmospheric boundary layer. Our results reveal that the structure of a downburst’s ring vortices and dissipation of its outflow play important roles in the separate inflow fields for turbines located at different parts of the array; these effects vary with stability. Interacting with the ambient winds, the outflow of a downburst is found to have greater impacts in an “average” sense on structural loads for turbines farther from the touchdown center in the stable cases. Worst-case analyses show that the largest extreme loads, although somewhat dependent on the specific structural load variable considered, depend on the location of the turbine and on the prevailing atmospheric stability. The results of our calculations show the highest simulated foreaft tower bending moment to be 85.4 MN-m, which occurs at a unit sited in the array farther from touchdown center of the downburst initiated in a stable boundary layer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5407
Number of pages28
JournalEnergies
Volume14
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Atmospheric boundary layer
  • Thunderstorm downburst
  • Wind farm

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