Spectral behaviour of the turbulence-driven power fluctuations of wind turbines

N. Tobin, H. Zhu, L. P. Chamorro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Field and laboratory experiments were performed to unravel the structure of the power output fluctuations of horizontal-axis wind turbines based on incoming flow turbulence. The study considers the power data of three wind turbines of rotor sizes 0.12, 3.2, and 96 m, with rated power spanning six decades from the order of 100 to 106 W. The 0.12 m wind turbine was tested in a wind tunnel while the 3.2 and 96 m wind turbines were operated in open fields under approximately neutrally stratified thermal conditions. Incoming flow turbulence was characterised by hotwire and sonic anemometers for the wind tunnel and field set-ups. While previous works have observed a filtering behaviour in wind turbine power output, this exact behaviour has not, to date, been properly characterised. Based on the spectral structure of the incoming flow turbulence at hub height, and the mechanical and structural properties of the turbines, a physical basis for the behaviour of temporal power fluctuations and their spectral structure is found with potential applications in turbine control and numerical simulations. Consistent results are observed across the geometrical scales of the wind turbines investigated, suggesting no Reynolds number dependence in the tested range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)832-846
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Turbulence
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2 2015


  • Field experiment
  • Renewable energy
  • Turbine power fluctuations
  • Turbulence
  • Wind energy
  • Wind tunnel experiment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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