Influence of atmospheric stability on wind turbine loads

Ameya Sathe, Jakob Mann, Thanasis K. Barlas, W.A.A.M. Bierbooms, G.J.W. van Bussel

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Simulations of wind turbine loads for the NREL 5 MW reference wind turbine under diabatic conditions are performed. The diabatic conditions are incorporated in the input wind field in the form of wind profile and turbulence. The simulations are carried out for mean wind speeds between 3 and 16 m s1 at the turbine hub height. The loads are quantified as the cumulative sum of the damage equivalent load for different wind speeds that are weighted according to the wind speed and stability distribution. Four sites with a different wind speed and stability distribution are used for comparison. The turbulence and wind profile from only one site is used in the load calculations, which are then weighted according to wind speed and stability distributions at different sites. It is observed that atmospheric stability influences the tower and rotor loads. The difference in the calculated tower loads using diabatic wind conditions and those obtained assuming neutral conditions only is up to 17%, whereas the difference for the rotor loads is up to 13%. The blade loads are hardly influenced by atmospheric stability, where the difference between the calculated loads using diabatic and neutral input wind conditions is up to 3% only. The wind profiles and turbulence under diabatic conditions have contrasting influences on the loads; for example, under stable conditions, loads induced by the wind profile are larger because of increased wind shear, whereas those induced by turbulence are lower because of less turbulent energy. The tower base loads are mainly influenced by
diabatic turbulence, whereas the rotor loads are influenced by diabatic wind profiles. The blade loads are influenced by both, diabatic wind profile and turbulence, that leads to nullifying the contrasting influences on the loads. The importance of using a detailed boundary-layer wind profile model is also demonstrated. The difference in the calculated blade and rotor loads is up to 6% and 8%, respectively, when only the surface-layer wind profile model is used in comparison with those obtained using a boundary-layer wind profile model. Finally, a comparison of the calculated loads obtained using site-specific and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) wind conditions is carried out. It is observed that the IEC loads are up to 96% larger than those obtained using site-specific wind conditions. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWind Energy
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1013-1032
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Atmospheric stability
  • Wind profile
  • Turbulence
  • Wind turbine loads

Cite this

Sathe, A., Mann, J., Barlas, T. K., Bierbooms, W. A. A. M., & van Bussel, G. J. W. (2013). Influence of atmospheric stability on wind turbine loads. Wind Energy, 16(7), 1013-1032.