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Mesoscale and Large Eddy Simulation Modeling

We develop and use state-of-the-art modeling tools to better simulate winds and turbulence inflow to wind farms. We are working to more realistically link mesoscale models and large eddy simulation (LES) to address the nation's science questions relevant to wind energy.

Recently, we have been working as part of a multi-laboratory team for U.S. Department of Energy's Mesoscale-Microscale Coupling project. This project seeks to link mesoscale and LES models to yield seamless predictions over a range of spatial scales for sites in both simple and complex terrain.

Boundary layers in complex terrain pose challenges to accurately calculating winds and turbulence for wind energy numerical weather prediction models cannot resolve the smallest variations in the wind, and these must be approximated within the models. Steep terrain, however, invalidates many of the assumptions that are inherent in these approximations. We are currently focusing on how these underlying approximations can better reflect the real behavior of the atmosphere in complex terrain.

Mesoscale models simulate regional scale weather patterns and their impact on wind speed and direction from the surface to an altitude many kilometers above the surface. Our models have horizontal resolutions ranging from 10's of kilometers to less than 1 km.

Large Eddy Simulation models generate detailed information about the winds and turbulence entering the wind farm. Their output can also be used to drive models used to simulate the stresses on the individual wind turbines within a wind farm or to develop strategies to optimize wind farm performance. Our models have horizontal grid spacing less than 100 m.

Wind Research at PNNL

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