A Comparative Analysis on the Response of a Wind-Turbine Model to Atmospheric and Terrain Effects

K. B. Howard, L. P. Chamorro, M. Guala

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a series of wind-tunnel experiments conducted at the St. Anthony Falls Laboratory, a wind-turbine model was exposed to three different thermal regimes (neutral, weakly stable and weakly convective flows) in three simple arrangements relevant to wind-farm applications: single turbine in the boundary-layer, aligned turbine-turbine, and an upwind three-dimensional sinusoidal hill aligned with the turbine. Results focus on the spatial evolution of large-scale motions developing over the different thermal and topographic boundary conditions, and on their influence on the mean and fluctuating angular velocity of the turbine rotor. As compared to the single turbine case, both the upwind hill and turbine caused a reduction in the mean angular velocity regardless of the thermal regime; the turbine angular velocity fluctuations always decreased with a turbine upwind, which depleted the energy of the large structures of the flow; however such fluctuations decreased (increased) under stably stratified (convective) conditions when the hill was present. Pre-multiplied spectra of the rotor angular velocity and two-point correlation contours of the streamwise velocity component confirmed a non-trivial link between thermal stratification and terrain complexity. It is inferred that the thermal effects occurring in the three different boundary-layer regimes modulate the spanwise motion of the hill wake and define whether the hill shelters or exposes the turbine to enhanced large-scale energetic motions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-255
Number of pages27
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Boundary layer
  • Complex terrain
  • Particle image velocimetry
  • Thermal stability
  • Turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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