Wind turbine upgrades have recently been spreading in the wind energy industry for optimizing the efficiency of the wind kinetic energy conversion. These interventions have material and labor costs; therefore, it is fundamental to estimate the production improvement realistically. Furthermore, the retrofitting of the wind turbines sited in complex environments might exacerbate the stress conditions to which those are subjected and consequently might affect the residual life. In this work, a two-step upgrade on a multimegawatt wind turbine is considered from a wind farm sited in complex terrain. First, vortex generators and passive flow control devices have been installed. Second, the management of the revolutions per minute has been optimized. In this work, a general method is formulated for assessing the wind turbine power upgrades using operational data. The method is based on the study of the residuals between the measured power output and a judicious model of the power output itself, before and after the upgrade. Therefore, properly selecting the model is fundamental. For this reason, an automatic feature selection algorithm is adopted, based on the stepwise multivariate regression. This allows identifying the most meaningful input variables for a multivariate linear model whose target is the power of the upgraded wind turbine. For the test case of interest, the adopted upgrade is estimated to increase the annual energy production to 2.6 ± 0.1%. The aerodynamic and control upgrades are estimated to be 1.8% and 0.8%, respectively, of the production improvement.

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