The study of efficiency and safety for wind turbine structures under variable operating conditions is increasingly important for wind turbine design. Optimum aerodynamic performance of a wind turbine demands that serviceability effects and ultimate strength loads remain under safety design limits. From the perspective of wind turbine efficiency, variations in wind speed causes bluffing effects and vortex shedding that lead to vibration intensities in the longitudinal and transversal direction that can negatively impact aerodynamic performance of the turbine. From the perspective of wind turbine safety, variations in loading may lead to transient internal loads that threaten the safety of the structure. Inertial effects and asynchronous delays on rotational-force transmission may generate similar hazards. Monitoring and controlling displacement limits and load demands at critical tower locations can improve the efficiency of wind power generation, not to mention the structural performance of the turbine from both a strength and serviceability point of view. In this study, a probabilistic monitoring approach is developed to measure the response of the combined tower/nacelle/blade system to stochastic loading, estimate peak demand, and compare that demand to building code-derived estimates of structural resistance. Risk assessment is performed for the effects of along and across-wind forces in a framework of quantitative risk analysis with the goal of developing a near real-time estimate of structural risk that may be used to monitor safety and serviceability of the structure as well as regulate the aggressiveness of the controller that commands the blade angle of attack. To accomplish this goal, a numerical simulation of the aerodynamic performance of a wind turbine (including blades, the nacelle and the tower) is analyzed to study the interaction between the structural system and incoming flow. A model based on distributed-stationary random wind load profile for the combined along-wind and across-wind responses is implemented in Matlab to simulate full aero-elastic dynamic analysis to simulate tower with nacelle, hub, rotor and tower substructures. Self-weight, rotational, and axial effects of the blades, as well as lateral resistance of substructure elements are incorporated in the finite element model, including vortex-shedding effects on the wake zone. Reliability on the numerical solution is inspected on the tower structure by comparing the numerical solution with established experimental-analytical procedures.

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