Systems and Controls Analysis
Accelerating wind technology means innovation in many areas. Making wind turbines more intelligent is part of a new generation of systems and controls technology. At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) National Wind Technology Center (NWTC), we design, implement, and test advanced wind turbine controls to maximize energy extraction and reduce structural dynamic loads. These control designs are based on linear models of the turbine that are simulated using specialized modeling software. The resulting advanced controls algorithms are field tested on the NWTC's Controls Advanced Research Turbines (CARTs).
NWTC researchers are studying blade pitch and generator torque, and employing advanced sensors to optimize power capture and reduce wind turbine loads. The advanced blade pitch controls independently position the blades to mitigate the effects of shear across the rotor disk, and a collective pitch component decreases tower bending and regulates turbine speed. Another component control, the generator torque control, decreases the towers' side to side movement and drivetrain torsion. In addition, researchers are gaining a better understanding of how turbine wakes behave, and how gusts and rapid changes in wind direction affect wind turbine operations through advanced sensing devices, such as Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR). This optical remote sensing technology measures the wind ahead of the turbine to supply just-in-time information to the turbine controls. Controlling components of the wind turbine, as well as determining environmental effects, reduces loads across the system.
Developing smarter, diverse controls offers the wind turbine industry more reliable energy capture and reduces the cost of wind energy.