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Wind Turbine Modeling and Simulation

Learn about NREL's wind turbine computer modeling and software simulation tools.

A photo of two men standing in front of a visual simulator projecting yellow and blue images of wind farm flow dynamics.

Wind turbines are unique devices that are typically anchored to the ground but operate in the atmosphere, which subjects them to a variety of torques and loads as weather conditions change.

Modeling this behavior for land-based wind turbines is difficult enough, but the issues become even more complex for floating offshore wind turbines that may respond to such conditions by moving and can be subjected to rolling seas that may affect their performance.

Researchers at NREL have developed a variety of computer modeling and software simulation tools to support the wind industry with state-of-the-art design and analysis capabilities.


FAST is an aeroelastic computer-aided engineering tool for horizontal-axis wind turbines. FAST is NREL's primary computer-aided engineering tool for simulating the coupled dynamic response of wind turbines. It enables the analysis of a range of wind turbine configurations, including:

  • Two- or three-bladed horizontal-axis rotor
  • Pitch or stall regulation
  • Rigid or teetering hub
  • Upwind or downwind rotor
  • Lattice or tubular tower
  • Land-based or offshore
  • If offshore, fixed-bottom or floating substructures.

OpenFAST is the next generation of the FAST whole-turbine simulation tool.

Simulator fOr Wind Farm Applications

The Simulator fOr Wind Farm Applications (SOWFA) employs computational fluid dynamics to allow users to investigate wind turbine and wind power plant performance under a full range of atmospheric conditions and terrain. The tool allows researchers and wind power plant designers to examine and minimize the impact of turbine wakes on overall plant performance.

Read the SOWFA fact sheet.
Download SOWFA.

Wind-Plant Integrated System Design and Engineering Model

The Wind-Plant Integrated System Design & Engineering Model (WISDEM®) is a set of models for assessing the overall cost of energy of a wind power plant. The models use the wind turbine and plant cost and estimated energy production, as well as financial models, to estimate cost of energy and other wind power plant system attributes. WISDEM models include:

  • Rotor Aero
  • Rotor Structure
  • Nacelle Structure
  • Tower Structure
  • Turbine Costs
  • Plant Balance of System Costs
  • Plant Operating Expenses
  • Plant Energy Production
  • Plant Finance.

Download WISDEM.