This paper challenges the standard wind turbine design numerically assessing the wake and aerodynamic performance of two and three bladed wind turbine models implementing downwind and upwind rotor configurations, respectively. The simulations are conducted using the Actuator Line Model (ALM) coupled with a three-dimensional Navier Stokes solver implementing the k-omega SST turbulence model. The sensitivity of the ALM to multiple simulation parameters is analyzed in detail and numerical results are compared against experimental data. These analyses highlight the most suitable Gaussian radius at the rotor to be equal to twice the chord length at 95% of the blade for a tip-speed ratio (TSR) of $10$, while the Gaussian radius at the tower and the number of actuator points have a low incidence on the flow field computations overall. The numerical axial velocity profiles show better agreement upstream than downstream the rotor, while the discrepancies are not consistent through all the assessed operating conditions, thus highlighting that the ALM parameters are also dependent on the wind turbine's operating conditions rather than being merely geometric parameters. Particularly, for the upwind three-bladed wind turbine model, the accuracy of the total thrust computations improves as the TSR increases, while the least accurate wake predictions are found for its design TSR. Finally, when comparing both turbine models, an accurate representation of the downwind configuration is observed as well as realistic power extraction estimates. Indeed, the results confirm that rotors with fewer blades are more suitable to operate at high TSRs.

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