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While wind turbine farms are currently rapidly expanding, there are numerous technological
challenges that must be overcome before wind energy represents a significant contributor to energy
generation in the United States. One of the primary challenges is accurately accounting for the
aerodynamic environment.
This dissertation is focused on improving the aerodynamic modeling through the incorporation of
wake effects. A comprehensive verification and validation of the NREL FAST code, which
has been enhanced to include a Free Vortex Wake (FVW) model was conducted. The
verification and validation is carried out through a comparison of wake geometry,
blade lift distribution, wind turbine power and force and moment coeffecients using a
combination of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and experimental data. The
results are also compared against Blade Element Momentum Theory (BEM), and
results from an extensive experimental campaign by NREL on the prediction capabilities of wind
turbine modeling tools. Results indicate that the enhanced aeroelastic code generally provides
improved predictions. However, in several notable cases the predictions are only marginally
improved, or even worse, than those generated using Blade Element Momentum Theory
aerodynamics. After verification and validation of the model, the impact of including the free vortex
wake model in the presence of turbulent flow was also examined. The inclusion of turbulence
created large diferences between BEM and FVW in predictions of rotor loading and power, however
the amplitude of the turbulence did not have a large impact on the diference between the FVW and
BEM. In addition to loading and power predictions, the structural response (tip deflections and root
bending moments) of the wind turbine is investigated in the presence of turbulent inflow.
The results indicate that the turbulence intensity and spectral model have a significant effect on the
importance of the wake dynamics in modeling the tip deflections and root moments.
From the dissertation results, it is concluded that modeling of the aerodynamic environment remains
incomplete,even after inclusion of wake effects. One important aspect identified for future
improvements is modeling of the unsteady aerodynamic lift characteristics of the rotor.