When studied in large wind turbines, roughness on wind turbine blades has been shown to decrease wind turbine performance by up to 50%. However, during wind turbine testing in the Baylor University Subsonic Wind Tunnel, roughness effects that were an artifact of the blade manufacturing process led to a significant power increase over smooth blades at the design wind speed of 10 mph. These results have led to an investigation of the effects of roughness on wind turbine performance under a flow condition with local Reynolds numbers ranging from 14,200 to 58,800. It was found that under these flow conditions the roughness can improve measured power output by up to 126% when compared with a smooth blade. This paper examines the conditions where roughness can positively affect the operation of a wind turbine by testing a 500 mm diameter, horizontal axis, three blade, fixed pitch wind turbine system in a wind tunnel. The experiments have been carried out on a single direct-drive wind turbine model and a single blade design using the NREL designed S818 airfoil. The design point for the blades tested is 10 miles per hour, with a tip speed ratio of 7. Roughness can be an effective treatment when used at or near the stall speed of the wind turbine blade for lower Reynolds number conditions. The roughness elements tested were both perpendicular to and along the flow lines. These blades were then compared to a blade configuration without roughness elements.

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