Multi-scale simulation ofwind farm performance during a frontal passage

Robert S. Arthur, Jeffrey D. Mirocha, Nikola Marjanovic, Brian D. Hirth, John L. Schroeder, Sonia Wharton, Fotini K. Chow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Predicting the response of wind farms to changing flow conditions is necessary for optimal design and operation. In this work, simulation and analysis of a frontal passage through a utility scale wind farm is achieved for the first time using a seamless multi-scale modeling approach. A generalized actuator disk (GAD) wind turbine model is used to represent turbine-flow interaction, and results are compared to novel radar observations during the frontal passage. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is employed with a nested grid setup that allows for coupling between multi-scale atmospheric conditions and turbine response. Starting with mesoscale forcing, the atmosphere is dynamically downscaled to the region of interest, where the interaction between turbulent flows and individual wind turbines is simulated with 10 m grid spacing. Several improvements are made to the GAD model to mimic realistic turbine operation, including a yawing capability and a power output calculation. Ultimately, the model is able to capture both the dynamics of the frontal passage and the turbine response; predictions show good agreement with observed background velocity, turbine wake structure, and power output after accounting for a phase shift in the mesoscale forcing. This study demonstrates the utility of the WRF-GAD model framework for simulating wind farm performance under complex atmospheric conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number245
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • Generalized actuator disk model
  • Large-eddy simulation
  • Weather research and forecasting model
  • Wind turbine wakes


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