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Optimal Control of a Variable Speed Wind Turbine under Dynamic Wind Conditions

A. McIver, D.G. Holmes, P. Freere

Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering Monash University Wellington Road, Clayton, 3 168 Australia
Abstract--Variable speed wind turbine systems have the potential for significantly increasing the energy that is extracted from the wind compared to constant speed turbines, since they allow the rotor to continue to operate with maximum efficiency as the wind speed varies. However, such systems require backto-back inverters, o r specially wound motors, to achieve the variable frequency to constant frequency conversion that is required. Since this adds to the cost and complexity of the system, it is desirable to make sure that the nett energy gain outweighs the increased cost. This paper explores this issue, by presenting control strategies for operating a variable wind speed turbine under varying wind conditions, and determing the increase in energy that can he achieved using these strategies. The results are verified both by simulation and laboratory experiment using a model turbine systems, and show that a 9 to 15% improvement in net energy extraction from the wind is achievable. Further improvements can also be obtained optimizing the generator excitation voltage for the varying speed conditions to reduce losses.

Recent research has suggested that variable speed wind turbines offer the potential for a significant increase in the energy extracted from the wind compared to constant or near constant speed turbines [1,2], since in a variable speed turbine, the turbine rotor speed can follow changes in wind speed to keep the rotor extracting energy from the wind with maximum efficiency. Despite this advantage, constant speed wind turbines dominate current installations, primarily because of the complexity of converting the generated power to a constant magnitude, constant frequency supply to feed into a grid. However, recent advances in power electronics now offer a practical method of achieving variable speed generation. The essential challenges with a variable speed wind generation system are: (i) to control the turbine rotor speed to achieve maximum power transfer from the wind as the wind speed varies; (ii) to convert the resultant variable frequency, variable magnitude AC output from the turbine generator into a constant frequency, constant magnitude supply which can feed into an electrial grid network. A number of approaches have been proposed to solve the variable frequency generation problem, of which the most
0-7803-3544-9196 $5.00 0 1996 IEEE

common is either a back-to-back AC-DC-AC inverter system (Figure. l), or a slip recovery system/doubly wound stator machine system for higher power applications [2,3,4]. Both solutions are more expensive than a simple fixed speed induction generator, and it is important for a practical wind generation system to be confident that the gain in recovered energy under variable speed operation exceeds the additional cost of the power electronics and/or machine modifications. Much of the work reported to date has concentrated on techniques for converting the variable rotor speed from the turbine into a constant frequency supply, primarily relying on simulations to c o n f m the results. In this paper, the performance of a complete variable speed wind generation system, consisting of a squirrel cage induction generator connected to the grid through back-to-back voltage source inverters, is investigated under dynamically varying wind conditions. Further improvements in system efficiency are then obtained by opthising the generator excitation voltage for varying speed conditions. Both simulation and laboratory results are presented.

A wind generation system comprises a number of sections as shown in Figure 2, each of which must be modelled if the overall performance of the system is to be evaluated. The following approach has been used to develop the various component models. For evaluation of the energy output between differing wind regime types, the wind regime can be modelled as a long term (eg over a year) probability function (Weibull function), multiplied by a short term (eg up to one hour) power

Generator Figure 1: Variable speed wind turbine system


Power Generator


C L 3
Control System


the blade from the varying air speed is approximated by using an averaging filter on the incoming wind and applying a single wind speed across the face of the rotor [5,6]. This filter has a spectrum described by (3), where T is the rotor time constant defined by (4), viz:

Figure 2 : Block diagram of a wind turbine


spectrum derived function. This enables a representation of a wind regime as a time domain function, with the requisite power spectrum and probability function. This wind regime is then applied to a rotor model, which is essentially a power coefficient versus tip speed ratio curve. The mechanical linkages are modelled as a simple inertia function with a constant friction torque and the generator is modelled as a standard induction motor with resistive losses and a constant power current harmonics loss.
A. WindModel The variable wind speed has been modelled as long term variations in average wind speed using a Weibull distribution, together with short term fluctuations around this average using a spectral power density model. This approach allows a realistic variable wind speed regime to be simulated for a variety of average wind speeds and turbulence conditions, without requiring a full set of measured site data.
I ) Short Term Wind Model The short term wind regime is based on the wind energy spectrum defined by (1) [ 5 ] , ie:

T =D v /,

where D = rotor diameter


Equation 5 then gives the resultant wind speed as a function of time [SI,viz:
V r ( t )=

+ &c@(ni).

F(n,). An)llZ cos(2n .nit + p i ) ( 5 )

where: Vdt) = filtered wind speed at time t ni = ith frequency An = frequency spacing pi = random angle Once the wind speed is known, the average power output of the wind turbine can be found using the turbine simulation taking variable speed or constant speed operation into account as appropriate.

2) Long Term Wind Modelling The limitation of this short term wind model on its own is that it only produces short term instantaneous data. The short term wind spectrum is a function of the hourly mean wind speed and produces wind speed variations around this mean. However, a long term wind simulation can be derived by combining a series of short term simulations where the mean wind speeds follow a long term wind speed distribution. The Weibull distribution (6) describes the probability of wind speeds at a site being greater than a reference value.

S(n) = spectral power density n = frequency z = height above ground fm = fluctuation constant = 0.06 r s =wind speed standard deviation ? = hourly mean wind speed Equation (1) is modified by a turbulence intensity parameter (Tu) which allows the spectrum to be varied to include good and bad turbulence sites by changing the standard deviation of the wind speed. eg for flat terrain Tu= 0.1, while at the outskirts of a town with buildings and trees Tu=0.3, where:
The spatial and time dependent turbulent structures in the wind do not always have a scale much greater than the rotor itself. This results in the rotor experiencing the effects of different wind speeds along the length of its blades. This can be accounted for by assuming that the sum of the forces on


Hence the probability of a wind speed being between two given values is:

where: Vi, V2 = given wind speed limits k = Weibull shape parameter c = Weibull scale parameter The parameters, c and k, are known for various sites, and can be extracted from existing wind records. Equation 8 shows how these results can be used to calculate an annual energy yield using the Weibull distribution and simulations of separate average wind speeds, ie.



where: Pgrid(V) = supplied grid power for a wind speed V (from the turbine simulation) H = number of hours in a year Esentially, (7) determines the probability of a particular average wind speed occurring using the long term wind model (the Weibull distribution), and (8) sums the wind turbine generator output over a full year based on this probability to determine the annual energy yield for a particular turbine model.

connected by ideal shafts (i.e. no friction, no inertia and no torsional flexibility). The available power for electromechanical conversion from the high speed shaft into the generator is then given by (1 1). (11) where: phss = mechanical power of the high speed shaft COrotor = rotor speed Protor = power from rotor Tfriction = friction torque = 10 Nm
P h s s = 'rotor
rotor= friction

B. Rotor Model The power extracted from the wind by the rotor of a wind turbine is given by:
(9) where: p = air density A = blade area V = wind velocity and the power co-efficient, Cp, is the proportion of the power extracted from the wind to the total power available in the wind. Cp varies as the turbine rotational speed and wind velocity vary, and is uniquely specified for each turbine. Cp is generally assumed to be a function of the tip-speed-ratio (TSR) as shown in Fig. 3, where TSR is: wR TSR = V where: w = turbine rotational speed R = blade radius = 2.5m V = filtered wind speed from ( 5 ) The wind turbine model used in this paper is based on a simple Cp curve model, so that for a given rotor and wind speed, the optimum tip speed ratio can be calculated from (lo), Cp measured from the relevant Cp curve (Fig. 3), and the rotor power Pro,,, can be calculated using (9) C. Mechanical Linkage The mechanical linkage is modelled as a single inertia element, a single friction element and an ideal gearbox

The generator is modelled as an ideal mechanical to electrical energy conversion with a constant torque loss to represent bearing friction and windage, and an electrical loss proportional to the square of the current to include the effect of resistive losses. This model gives an approximately correct steady state efficiency without considering any dynamic effects, and is easily extended for the variable speed turbine to account for the generator losses due to the inverter switching harmonics (12).

= phss - 3 1

- phmm


where: I = generator current = generator equivalent resistance = 6.6Q harm = generator losses due to inverter switching harmonics = 53W (approximated as a constant)

E. Frequency Converter There is a switching loss incurred by each switch in the inverter every time it turns on and off, and conduction losses in each switch caused by the current flow. Equation 13 approximates these power losses for a given switching frequency and load current as:
h s s

= 2pswitch

f 4-61ph

' o n


so that the power fed into the grid becomes:

pgrid = pelec

- ploss



Pswitch = switching loss for one switch = 1.2mJ f = switching frequency Iph = phase current Von = switch on state voltage = 1.6V Pelec = electrical power produced by generator

C p 0.25 0.20 0.15







1\ ;

The response time of the turbine rotor speed is determined by the large rotor inertia, which is much slower than the generator electrical response time. Thus the optimising controller can be split into two sub sections; speed control of the turbine and generation control of the generator, as shown in Fig. 4.The speed controller calculates the generator torque required to vary the turbine speed to maintain constant TSR, ' and the generator controller adjusts the inverter to extract the appropriate power from the generator to achieve this torque.

, ,


Speed controller

1 - 1

. .

, -

,pref 'gen, Generator controller

Wind Figure 5 : Turbine speed controller

Figure 4: Variable Speed Turbine Speed and Generator Power Controller

The two controllers are decoupled by their speed of response similar to speed and current control loops in a conventional variable speed drive system.
A. Turbine Speed Controller Figure 3 shows that the power extracted from the wind will be maximised when TSR is maintained constant at the optimum value. Thus the control strategy for a variable speed wind turbine is to control the rotor speed to maintain the optimum TSR as the wind speed changes. The mechanical behaviour of a wind turbine is described by:

produced by the wind is known accurately and the generator torque is controlled precisely. Integral control is added to the system to remove any errors introduced by imperfections in the system. Rotor torque can be estimated by applying the measured wind speed to a model of the turbine. Thus the measurement of wind speed and the turbine model are both sources of error. The knowledge of the generator torque is limited to the accuracy of the generator control system. A small level of integral control is required to remove the effects of these errors. The rotor torque due to the wind is estimated using the known C, curve for the rotor, and wind and rotor speed measurements. This is a simple method for torque estimation, but it does require measurement of wind speed. It has been assumed that the wind speed is already measured to determine the tip speed ratio reference in this case. The output of the turbine controller can therefore be expressed as:


T~~~ = generator torque

J = turbine and generator inertia = 20 kgm' which means that the generator torque becomes the control variable to maintain the optimum TSR as the wind speed varies. Generator torque is directly related to generated electrical power and can be determined from the DC link power with a correction for losses in the inverter and the generator if the rotor speed is known. This avoids the need for a shaft torque transducer to determine zgen.
Turbine Speed Controller

, , = speed ratio error (derived from TSR error) where: a Kp = proportional gain = 0.2 K, = integral gain = 0.0001
B. Generator Power Controller The aim of this controller is to determine the magnitude and frequency signals for input to the inverter so that the generator power follows the power reference signal. The power reference signal is calculated to be the power such that the turbine operates at its maximum output power. Figure 6 shows a block diagram of the final controller. The 'plant' to be controlled by the generator controller comprises the inverter and the induction machine. The controller requirements can be summarized as follows: a power reference input - from the turbine control loop a feedback signal the generated power a conversion of a power error into a frequency and magnitude signal

This controller determines the power that is to be extracted from the rotor. Some of this power is dissipated as generator losses and the rest is converted into electrical power. The overall structure of the controller is shown in Figure 5. The main controller objectives are to maintain the optimum TSR with no steady state error, and without large processing requirements so that this controller can be implemented in a micro controller along with the generator power controller. The derivative term in (15) determines the type of controller used. While a PI type system is desirable, the presence of the derivative term in the 'plant' equation means that the proportional control alone is sufficient to drive the steady state error to zero assuming that the rotor torque


- 4 3, J,
Figure 6 : Generator power controller


This last requirement involved some plant modelling, and it was eventually decided to convert the power error into a frequency error to feed directly into the PI control section so that the inverter frequency could be determined directly. (The inverter output voltage magnitude was kept proportional to the frequency for constant Vlf operation). The relationship between power error and frequency error can be found from the torque speed equation of an induction machine. Taking the derivative with respect to frequency and assuming that the slip is small (and hence o m , )gives:

Grid I l l

3 phase su ply



_ . I .

. : .




Power Controller Lower Refe:ence Turbine

Tip speed ratio

data logging

=-. 3v2


where: f = electrical frequency r2= rotor resistance V = terminal voltage Note that (17) is an approximate relationship between the power error and the frequency error, and does show dependency on other factors such as terminal voltage and rotor resistance. However, any errors introduced by the assumptions made deriving this expression are not significant in the final control system since the integral component of the PI section drives the steady state error to zero anyway. A low pass filter with a time constant of 47ms was also added to the power feedback signal to remove noise. The main source of noise is the measured DC current, since at present the grid side inverter is a four quadrant DC drive operating in constant dc voltage mode. Since this drive uses a thyristor inverter, the current is far from smooth, particularly during discontinuous conduction.

The wind turbine system was simulated using a C programme which assumed that, due to the small electrical time constant of the generarator compared to the mechanical time constant of the turbine, the generator reached its steady state operating point instantaneously relative to the turbine. The generator control strategy was assessed for stability before experimental validation, by simulating it in the power electronics simulation package KREAN.




A complete experimental test bed has been constructed to confirm the operation of the variable speed wind generator and control system in the laboratory, as shown in Figure 7. The test bed comprises of a 34kW, 2900rpm DC motor controlled by a four quadrant variable speed DC drive, which is driven to follow the output shaft torque that would be achieved by a real wind turbine and its mechanical linkages operating under a given variable wind regime. The drive has been programmed to incorporate the random nature of wind, the non-linear power output of the rotor blades as wind and turbine speed,change, and the dynamics of the rotor blades,



12 20

16 12


Time (seconds)

Figure 8: Experimental Response to Step Change in Demanded Power


command was stepped from 1.OkW to 2.0kW. This confirms the capability of the controller to maintain a commanded generation level.

Figures 9 and 10 show the operation of the complete system in varying wind regimes, and there is excellent match between simulation and laboratory experiment. From these figures, it can be seen how the controllers attempt to maintain the optimum TSR of just below 10, but there are some transient deviations from optimum as the wind speed changes since the rotor inertia limits the maximum acceleration of the rotor. In Figures 11 and 12, the effect of the use of a variable speed turbine is shown on the power output at an average wind speed for a given turbulence. For the constant wind speeds (ie. turbulence is zero), the variable speed turbine is able to have a higher output in regions where the constant speed turbine is unable to operate at maximum efficiency. However, as the wind speed increases, the constant speed turbine operates at its maximum efficiency, and the extra losses in the converter system for the variable speed turbine ensure that the variable speed turbine has a lower output. As the wind turbulence increases, the constant speed

turbine is unable to follow the wind velocity excursions, and hence operates below optimum at all times. Under these conditions, the variable speed turbine has a significant advantage in power output even when the average wind speed is within the maximum efficiency region of the constant speed turbine. In fact, because of the normal variation of average wind speed over a full year under the assumption of a WeibulI distribution, under low turbulence conditions (Tu = 0.1) a variable rotor speed system gains 9.2% more energy than a constant speed system. In high turbulence winds (Tu = 0.3), the gain is much greater (1 5.1"/).

The induction generator requires external excitation to operate, and this reactive power is normally supplied by the generator inverter in the back-to-back configuration. This arrangement gives the flexibility to control the generator excitation independently of the real power transfer. Conventional variable speed drives maintain a constant V/f excitation ratio which keeps a fixed magnetic flux in the motor and essentially constant magnetizing losses. This constant excitation of the induction generator results in low efficiency as the generated power drops at low wind speeds. There is potential for considerable gain in efficiency for



/ l

/ l

/ I

2 0
50 45 55


1 I





2 1 1






lime (3









Figure 9 : Simulated and Experimental Control of Tip Speed Ratio under Dynamic Wind Conditions - Low Turbulence Conditions

Wind Speed (mls)

Figure 11: Electrical power v's Wind Speed Constant Wind Speed Conditions (Tu = 0)


45M1 401m

Constant speed















Wind S

d (4s)

Figure 10 : Simulated and Experimental Control of Tip Speed Ratio under Dynamic Wind Conditions - High Turbulence Conditions

Figure 12: Electrical power v's Wind Speed High Turbulence Conditions (Tu = 0.3)




Pgen 1kW ..!Ziu.e..F.)..... o = 100 rads Ploss ( w ) .... ... ....................



I I 1
Reduced e x c i t a : ;

Constant :: V !I











Line voltage

Figure 13 : Comparison of reduced excitation for simulation and experiment at constant speed

a constant speed rotor, but the net gain in energy yield may be low in non turbulent wind regimes because of the additional losses incurred in frequency conversion. Careful evaluation is required in each individual situation to confirm the economic benefit of moving to variable speed operation.

variable speed wind generation systems at low wind speeds if the induction generator excitation is reduced for lower power operation. The approach taken is to heuristically determine the optimum excitation voltage for various speeds and power levels. Figure 13 shows an example of the benefits of reducing the machine excitation levels. Both the model and experimental results show that significantly lower machine losses can be achieved simply through regulation of the terminal voltage and hence the excitation losses. Table 1 compares the voltage and losses for reduced excitation operation with constant Vlf.

This paper presents the results of a theoretical and laboratory experimental investigation into the benefits of variable speed generation for a wind turbine. It shows how a squirrel cage induction generator can be controlled using a PWh4 voltage source inverter and a simple speed controller to maintain optimum power transfer conditions for the wind turbine in varying wind speed conditions. The main limit to the ability of the system to follow wind speed changes is the large rotor inertia preventing the rapid acceleration of the rotor. Further efficiencies have also been shown to be obtainable by optimising the generator excitation for particular operating conditions. The results of this work show that a variable speed turbine can extract significantly more power from wind compared to

Carlson, 0 and Hylander, J., Electrical System with Frequency Conversion for Variable Speed Operation of Wind Turbines, Wind Engineering, Vol. 13, No. 5 , 1989. Spee, R. et al, Adaptive control strategies for variablespeed doubly-fed wind power generation systems, ~ ~ 5 4 5 - 5 5IES, 2 , IEEE, 1994. Nakra, H.L. et al, Slip power recovery induction generators for large vertical axis wind turbines, IEEE Trans on Energy Conv., pp733-7, Dec 1988 Brune, C. et al, Experimental evaluation of a variablespeed, doubly-fed wind-power generation system, ~ ~ 4 8 0 - 4 8IES, 7 , IEEE, 1993. Beyer, H. et al, Wind Energy Converters in a Real Windfield: Calculation of Hourly Mean Power Output, Wind Engineering, Vol. 10, No. 2, 1986. Beyer, H. et al, Optimization of Hourly Mean Power Output of Wind Energy Converters with Variable Rotatinal Speed using a Dynamic Model, European Community Wind Energy Conference Proceedings, June 1988. Bechly, M.E. et al, Development of a resin injection technique for manufacturing composite blades for small wind turbines, pp47-54, Solar95, Australian and New Zealand Solar Energy Society, 1995.