Wind turbine fatigue loads as a function of atmospheric conditions offshore

M. C. Holtslag*, W. A A M Bierbooms, G. J W van Bussel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


In recent years, there has been a growing interest by the wind energy community to assess the impact of atmospheric stability on wind turbine performance; however, up to now, typically, stability is considered in several distinct arbitrary stability classes. As a consequence, each stability class considered still covers a wide range of conditions. In this paper, wind turbine fatigue loads are studied as a function of atmospheric stability without a classification system, and instead, atmospheric conditions are described by a continuous joint probability distribution of wind speed and stability. Simulated fatigue loads based upon this joint probability distribution have been compared with two distinct different cases, one in which seven stability classes are adopted and one neglecting atmospheric stability by following International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standards. It is found that for the offshore site considered in this study, fatigue loads of the blade root, rotor and tower loads significantly increase if one follows the IEC standards (by up to 28% for the tower loads) and decrease if one considers several stability classes (by up to 13% for the tower loads). The substantial decrease found for the specific stability classes can be limited by considering one stability class that coincides with the mean stability of a given hub height wind speed. The difference in simulated fatigue loads by adopting distinct stability classes is primarily caused by neglecting strong unstable conditions for which relatively high fatigue loads occur. Combined, it is found that one has to carefully consider all stability conditions in wind turbine fatigue load simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1917-1932
Number of pages16
JournalWind Energy
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • atmospheric stability
  • fatigue load simulation
  • offshore wind energy
  • turbulence
  • wind shear
  • wind turbine fatigue loads


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