State of the art and prospectives of smart rotor control for wind turbines

Thanasis K. Barlas, G. A. M. van Kuik

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The continued reduction in cost of energy of wind turbines, especially with the increasingly upscaling of the rotor, will require contribution from technology advances in many areas. Reducing loads on the rotor can offer great reduction to the total cost of wind turbines. With the increasing size of wind turbine blades, the need for more sophisticated load control techniques has induced the interest for locally distributed aerodynamic control systems with built-in intelligence on the blades. Such concepts are often named in popular terms "smart structures" or "smart rotor control". This paper focuses on research regarding active rotor control and smart structures for load reduction. It presents an overview of available knowledge and future concepts on the application of active aerodynamic control and smart structures for wind turbine applications. The goal of the paper is to provide a perspective on the current status and future directions of the specific area of research. It comprises a novel attempt to summarize and analyze possible advanced control systems for future wind turbines. The overview builds on existing research on helicopter rotors and expands similar concepts for wind turbine applications, based on ongoing research in the field. Research work has been analyzed through UPWIND project's work package on Smart Rotor Blades and Rotor Control. First, the specifications of unsteady loads, the state of the art of modern control for load reduction and the need for more advanced and detailed active aerodynamic control are analyzed. Also, overview of available knowledge in application of active aerodynamic control on rotating blades, from helicopter research, is provided. Concepts, methods, and achieved results are presented. Furthermore, R&D so far and up-to-date ongoing progress of similar applications for wind turbines are presented. Feasibility studies for wind turbine applications, preliminary performance evaluation and novel computational and experimental research approaches are reviewed, including DUWIND's recent achievement of applying feedback aerodynamic control on a wind tunnel model of a scaled blade for load reduction. The potential of load reduction using smart rotor control concepts is shown. This study provides a unique overview of advanced aerodynamic control methods utilizing smart structures for wind turbines, discusses feasibility of future implementation, and also quantifies key parameters and shows the challenges associated with such an approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)012080
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes
Event2nd International Conference on "The Science of Making Torque From Wind" - Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark
Duration: 28 Aug 200731 Aug 2007
Conference number: 2


Conference2nd International Conference on "The Science of Making Torque From Wind"
CityKgs. Lyngby
Internet address

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