Site-specific assessment of wind turbine design requires verification that the individual wind turbine components can survive the site-specific wind climate. The wind turbine design standard, IEC 61400-1 (third edition), describes how this should be done using a simplified, equivalent wind climate established from the on-site distribution functions of the horizontal mean wind speeds, the 90% quantile of turbulence along with average values of vertical wind shear and air density and the maximum flow inclination. This paper investigates the accuracy of fatigue loads estimated using this equivalent wind climate required by the current design standard by comparing damage equivalent fatigue loads estimated based on wind climate parameters for each 10 min time-series with fatigue loads estimated based on the equivalent wind climate parameters. Wind measurements from Boulder, CO, in the United States and Høvsøre in Denmark have been used to estimate the natural variation in the wind conditions between 10 min time periods. The structural wind turbine loads have been simulated using the aero-elastic model FAST. The results show that using a 90% quantile for the turbulence leads to an accurate assessment of the blade root flapwise bending moment and a conservative assessment of the tower bottom for-aft bending moment and low speed shaft torque. Currently, IEC 61400-1 (third edition) neglects the variation in wind shear by using the average value. This may lead to a nonconservative assessment of blade root flapwise fatigue loads, which are sensitive to wind shear. The results in this paper indicate that using a 75% quantile for the wind shear at each wind speed bin leads to an appropriate, but conservative, assessment of the fatigue loads. However, care should be taken when using this approach for components where low or negative wind shears can lead to large fatigue loads. This is the case for some drivetrain components where a lower quantile may be required.

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