Darrieus wind turbines are experiencing a renewed interest in the wind energy scenario, in particular, whenever small and medium-size installations are considered. In these contexts, the average wind speeds are generally quite low due to scale effects and therefore the most exploited design choices for the turbines are the H-shape configuration, as the entire blade can take advantage of the maximum rotational radius, and high chord to radius ratios, in order to ensure suitable Reynolds numbers on the airfoils. By doing so, the aerodynamic effects induced by the motion of the airfoils in a curved flowpath become more evident and the airfoils themselves have to be designed to compensate these phenomena if conventional design tools based on the blade element momentum (BEM) theory are used. In this study, fully unsteady 2D simulations were exploited to analyze a three-bladed H-Darrieus wind turbine in order to define the real flow structure and its effects on the turbine performance; in detail, the influence of both the virtual camber and the virtual incidence were investigated. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) results were supported by experimental data collected on full-scale models reproducing two different airfoil mountings. Finally, the proper design criteria to compensate these phenomena are proposed and their benefits on a conventional simulation with a BEM approach are discussed.

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