Articles | Volume 1, issue 2
Wind Energ. Sci., 1, 153–175, 2016
Wind Energ. Sci., 1, 153–175, 2016

Research article 29 Sep 2016

Research article | 29 Sep 2016

Basic controller tuning for large offshore wind turbines

Karl O. Merz Karl O. Merz
  • SINTEF Energy Research, Sem Sælandsvei 11, 7034 Trondheim, Norway

Abstract. When a wind turbine operates above the rated wind speed, the blade pitch may be governed by a basic single-input–single-output PI controller, with the shaft speed as input. The performance of the wind turbine depends upon the tuning of the gains and filters of this controller. Rules of thumb, based upon pole placement, with a rigid model of the rotor, are inadequate for tuning the controller of large, flexible, offshore wind turbines. It is shown that the appropriate controller tuning is highly dependent upon the characteristics of the aeroelastic model: no single reference controller can be defined for use with all models. As an example, the ubiquitous National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) 5 MW wind turbine controller is unstable when paired with a fully flexible aeroelastic model. A methodical search is conducted, in order to find models with a minimum number of degrees of freedom, which can be used to tune the controller for a fully flexible aeroelastic model; this can be accomplished with a model containing 16–20 states. Transient aerodynamic effects, representing rotor-average properties, account for five of these states. A simple method is proposed to reduce the full transient aerodynamic model, and the associated turbulent wind spectra, to the rotor average. Ocean waves are also an important source of loading; it is recommended that the shaft speed signal be filtered such that wave-driven tower side-to-side vibrations do not appear in the PI controller output. An updated tuning for the NREL 5 MW controller is developed using a Pareto front technique. This fixes the instability and gives good performance with fully flexible aeroelastic models.

Short summary
Wind turbines are controlled through the electrical torque on the generator and the pitch of the blades. The tuning of the controller determines the dynamics of the system, which can then be good (smooth yet responsive) or bad (ineffective or unstable). A methodical investigation was conducted to determine the minimal model of the wind turbine structure and aerodynamics that can be used to tune the controller gains for large, multi-MW offshore wind turbines.