Tuesday, October 1, 2013

CONVERGE™ Optimizes Clean Energy and Wind Farm Operations

Wind energy production continues to expand as it is clean and plentiful. The United States now produces roughly 25% of the world’s capacity of this renewable energy. To increase the efficiency and energy density, hundreds of individual wind turbines can be connected to the power grid to form a wind farm. Wind energy is very popular in Texas (over 12,000 MW of capacity) where land is plentiful and there is favorable intermittency. For example, the Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center in Nolan County, Texas consists of over 400 wind turbines and has a capacity of over 700 megawatts.
Proper tower sizing and placement is crucial for optimizing the wind farm efficiency for a range of wind climates. Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) can be a valuable tool for wind farm design and can be used in conjunction with WAsP (Wind Atlas Analysis and Application Program). CFD can also be useful in estimating individual blade loading which is valuable in blade design.
Predicting the wind farm flow-field can be very challenging for commercial CFD codes. The difficulties are mostly associated with meshing issues related to the very complex topology. Furthermore, the rotating turbine blades greatly add to the complexity and difficulty of this CFD application.
If the blade motion is neglected, an actuator disk simplification can be utilized. In such an approach, the individual blades aren’t resolved and a bulk source term can be added to introduce an increase in momentum across the rotor face to get an estimate of the wake effects or turbines located downstream. Considering the rotating blade geometry is a much more robust approach, yet the meshing issues associated with this must be overcome.
To learn more about how CONVERGE™ optimizes the industry and eliminates the need for user meshing, read on: CFD Modeling of Wind Farm