On wind turbine loads during the evening transition period

Nan You Lu, Sukanta Basu, Lance Manuel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The late afternoon hours in the diurnal cycle precede the development of the nocturnal stable boundary layer. This “evening transition” (ET) period is often when energy demand peaks. This period also corresponds to the time of day that is a precursor to late-afternoon downbursts, a subject of separate interest. To capture physical characteristics of wind fields in the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) during this ET period, particularly the interplay of shear and turbulence, stochastic simulation approaches, although more tractable, are not suitable. Large-eddy simulation (LES), on the other hand, may be used to generate high-resolution ABL turbulent flow fields. We present a suite of idealized LES four-dimensional flow fields that define a database representing different combinations of large-scale atmospheric conditions (characterized by associated geostrophic winds) and surface boundary conditions (characterized by surface heat fluxes). Our objective is to evaluate the performance of wind turbines during the ET period. Accordingly, we conduct a statistical analysis of turbine-scale wind field variables. We then employ the database of these LES-based inflow wind fields in aeroelastic simulations of a 5-MW wind turbine. We discuss how turbine loads change as the ET period evolves. We also discuss maximum and fatigue loads on the rotor and tower resulting from different ABL conditions. Results of this study suggest that, during the ET period, the prevailing geostrophic wind speed affects the mean and variance of longitudinal winds greatly and thus has significant influence on all loads except the yaw moment which is less sensitive to uniform and symmetric incoming flow. On the other hand, surface heat flux levels affect vertical turbulence and wind shear more and, as a result, only affect maximum blade flapwise bending and tower fore-aft bending loads.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1288-1309
Number of pages22
JournalWind Energy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • atmospheric boundary layer
  • evening transition
  • inflow
  • large-eddy simulation
  • turbulence
  • wind turbine loads


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