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Systems Engineering Models and Tools

The NREL Systems Engineering Initiative develops, integrates, and analyzes wind energy system models.

NREL has developed an overall integrated system analysis tool called NREL Wind-Plant Integrated System Design & Engineering Model (NREL WISDEM) that provides wind turbine and plant engineering and cost models for holistic system analysis. The model set was designed to work in the standardized Framework for Unified System Engineering and Design of Wind Plants (FUSED-Wind) that is being jointly developed by DTU Wind Energy and NREL. FUSED-Wind is a plugin for NASA's Open Multi-disciplinary Design Analysis & Optimization (OpenMDAO) software. This graphic depicts the overall software organization.

Flowchart of the inputs and outputs of turbine/component models and wind plant analysis models that the systems engineering team produces. If you have a disability and need assistance reading this image, please email the webmaster.


OpenMDAO, designed by NASA Glenn Research Center, is an open-source software package built in the Python programming language that integrates complex models for multi-disciplinary analysis work that may include sensitivity analysis, design of experiments, meta-modeling, uncertainty quantification, or optimization. It provides standard processes for wrapping individual simulation codes into OpenMDAO modules known as "components," which can then be connected together in a variety of ways to create analysis "assemblies." These components and assemblies are then connected to "drivers" for a particular analysis. OpenMDAO provides several built-in drivers and additional plugins have been created for other open source drivers. Information on OpenMDAO can be found on the OpenMDAO website.

NREL has designed a driver plugin for Sandia National Laboratories' Design Analysis Kit for Optimization and Terascale Applications (DAKOTA) toolkit, which NREL and Sandia are adapting into an official OpenMDAO plugin. The toolkit assists with advanced analysis applications with tasks such as uncertainty quantification, sensitivity analysis, or optimization.


FUSED-Wind is a joint effort between NREL and DTU Wind Energy. The framework is a plugin for NASA's OpenMDAO software and provides additional structure for using OpenMDAO for integrated modeling of wind turbines and plants. It provides guidance for overall wind turbine and plant input specifications as well as on the integration of various wind turbine and plant simulation tools with FUSED-Wind and OpenMDAO. Information on FUSED-Wind can be found on the FUSED-Wind website.


WISDEM is NREL's core systems engineering software tool and integrates a full set of wind plant system models. It is built on top of the FUSED-Wind software framework and includes wrappers for a full suite of wind plant models including turbine aerodynamics, component structural analysis, component costs, plant balance of station costs, plant operations and maintenance costs, financial models, wind plant layouts, and wind turbine aeroelastic simulations. Information on WISDEM can be found on the WISDEM website.

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