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International Journal of Rotating Machinery
Volume 3 (1997), Issue 1, Pages 21-32

An Aerodynamic Method for the Analysis of Isolated Horizontal-Axis Wind Turbines

Bombardier Aeronautical Chair, École Polytechnique, Montréal H3C 3A7, Canada

Received 4 April 1996

Copyright © 1997 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The aerodynamic analysis of a wind turbine represents a very complex task since it involves an unsteady three-dimensional viscous flow. In most existing performance-analysis methods, wind turbines are considered isolated so that interference effects caused by other rotors or by the site topology are neglected. Studying these effects in order to optimize the arrangement and the positioning of Horizontal-Axis Wind Turbines (HAWTs) on a wind farm is one of the research activities of the Bombardier Aeronautical Chair. As a preliminary step in the progress of this project, a method that includes some of the essential ingredients for the analysis of wind farms has been developed and is presented in the paper. In this proposed method, the flow field around isolated HAWTs is predicted by solving the steady-state, incompressible, two-dimensional axisymmetric Navier-Stokes equations. The turbine is represented by a distribution of momentum sources. The resulting governing equations are solved using a Control-Volume Finite Element Method (CVFEM). This axisymmetric implementation efficiently illustrates the applicability and viability of the proposed methodology, by using a formulation that necessitates a minimum of computer resources. The axisymmetric method produces performance predictions for isolated machines with the same level of accuracy than the well-known momentum-strip theory. It can therefore be considered to be a useful tool for the design of HAWTs. Its main advantage, however, is its capacity to predict the flow in the wake which constitutes one of the essential features needed for the performance predictions of wind farms of dense cluster arrangements.