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Report Proves Wake Steering May Improve Wind Plant Power Output

A new study proves wake steering can increase overall wind power plant output. Photo by Dennis Schroeder/NREL

Yaw steering, or turning a wind turbine into the wind, revolutionized the wind industry after its introduction in the mid-1800s. But the ability to catch the wind where it is strongest has created a new challenge for wind researchers: the first row of turbines cause wake losses—when weak, turbulent winds prevent downstream turbines from producing the maximum amount of power.

Wake steering allows wind power plant operators to turn the front row of turbines out of the wind, which researchers theorized would decrease wake losses and increase overall plant production. NREL researchers Paul Fleming and Jennifer Annoni’s recently released article in Wind Energy Science, Field test of wake steering at an offshore wind farm, may prove that theory true.

The report—which summarizes a field test performed in collaboration with Envision Energy—indicates that utilizing wake steering in a wind power plant can increase overall power capture. Researchers modified standard yaw controllers to implement wake steering at an operating commercial offshore wind farm in China.

“This campaign provides a first indication that wake steering can be used to raise energy capture at commercial wind farms,” says Fleming.

Using NREL wind farm models like Simulator fOr Wind Farm Applications, a computational fluid dynamics model, and FLOw Redirection and Induction in Steady State, an engineering model, researchers assessed wake dynamics and yaw control optimization to demonstrate the benefits of wake steering for commercial wind farms.

—Jamie Wiebe