State-of-the-art wind turbine performance prediction is mainly based on semi-analytical models, incorporating blade element momentum (BEM) analysis and empirical models. Full numerical simulation methods can yield the performance of a wind turbine without empirical assumptions. Inherent difficulties are the large computational domain required to capture all effects of the unbounded ambient flow field and the fact that the boundary layer on the blade may be transitional.

A modified turbine design method in terms of the velocity triangles, Euler’s turbine equation and BEM is developed. Lift and drag coefficients are obtained from XFOIL, an open source 2D design and analysis tool for subcritical airfoils. A 3 m diameter horizontal axis wind turbine rotor was designed and manufactured. The flow field is predicted by means of a Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes simulation. Two turbulence models were utilized: (i) a standard k-ω-SST model, (ii) a laminar/turbulent transition model. The manufactured turbine is placed on the rooftop of the University of Siegen. Three wind anemometers and wind direction sensors are arranged around the turbine. The torque is derived from electric power and the rotational speed via a calibrated grid-connected generator.

The agreement between the analytically and CFD-predicted kinematic quantities up- and downstream of the rotor disc is quite satisfactory. However, the blade section drag to lift ratio and hence the power coefficient vary with the turbulence model chosen. Moreover, the experimentally determined power coefficient is considerably lower as predicted by all methods. However, this conclusion is somewhat preliminary since the existing experimental data set needs to be extended.

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