Analysis of the Impact of Leading Edge Surface Degradation on Wind Turbine Performance Conference Paper uri icon


  • 2015, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc. All rights reserved. Over time it has been reported wind turbine power output can diminish below manufacturers promised levels. This is clearly undesirable from an operator standpoint, and can also put pressure on turbine companies to make up the difference. A likely explanation for the discrepancy in power output is the contamination of the leading edge due to environmental conditions creating surfaces much coarser than intended. To examine the effects of airfoil leading edge roughness, a comprehensive study has been performed both experimentally and computationally on a NACA 633 - 418 airfoil. A description of the experimental setup and test matrix are provided, along with an outline of the computational roughness amplification model used to simulate rough configurations. The experimental investigation serves to provide insight into the changes in measurable airfoil properties such as lift, drag, and boundary layer transition location. The computational effort is aimed at using the experimental results to calibrate a roughness model that has been implemented in an unsteady RANS solver. Furthermore, a blade element momentum code was used to assess the impact on the performance of a turbine as whole due to discrepancies in clean vs. soiled airfoil characteristics. The results have implications in predicting the power loss due to leading edge surface roughness, and can help to establish an upper bound on admissible surface contamination levels.

name of conference

  • 33rd Wind Energy Symposium

published proceedings

  • 33rd Wind Energy Symposium

author list (cited authors)

  • Langel, C. M., Chow, R., Hurley, O. F., Van Dam, C., Maniaci, D. C., Ehrmann, R. S., & White, E. B.

publication date

  • January 1, 2015 11:11 AM