You are on page 1of 19

Wind Power Feasibility and Optimization Study in East Tennessee

In submission for the Chancellors Honors Program Senior Thesis project

Megan Schutt
Aerospace Engineering Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering Department University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee

Wind Power Feasibility and Optimization Study in East Tennessee

Megan Schutt
Aerospace Engineering Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering Department University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee

Wind energys application in the East Tennessee and West North Carolina area was addressed, as well as regions with similar topography and climatology. A Geographic Information System (GIS) study was developed using data from the Wind Energy Resource Atlas. These regions relatively small wind energy sources are optimized through a tailored airfoil and the investigation of less invasive turbine technologies. In this way, smaller and more efficient farms can be constructed, lessening the impact on wildlife and the surrounding community.

Nomenclature P v A dE/dt L D CL CD CP L/D = density = power = mass flow rate = velocity = rotor area = kinetic energy change = lift force = drag force = coefficient of lift = coefficient of drag = coefficient of pressure = lift to drag ratio = angle of attack

Appalachian region, different power maximization technologies may be advantageous. This study will attempt to localize regions prime for wind farm development through Geography Information Systems (GIS) as well as to create a solution for wind turbine technology suitable for such areas with customized turbine type selection and unique airfoil design. 2. Theory 2.1 Geographic Study First, ideal locations must be scouted according to average wind speed and temporal variability, and practical topography. A sound criticism of wind farms as an anchor energy resource is the inconsistency in availability. This cannot be completely alleviated without large gains in energy storage capabilities, but an expected supply can be denoted with analysis of data in regards to historical patterns throughout different parts of the year. In fact, some studies have shown that diurnal wind cycling is actually in sync with power demand, with higher wind speeds during the early evening, and tapering off until the early hours of the morning.1 Using

1. Introduction In order to lessen dependence on fossil fuels, an alternative energy supply study remains necessary. Especially in regions overcome with current land abuse through such resource gleaning as mountaintop removal, traditional coal mining and hydraulic fracturing, unconventional methods may need to be optimized. For wind farms to become feasible in mountainous regions such as those in the East Tennessee and Western North Carolina

the Wind Resource Energy Atlas from the US Department of Energy, wind categories can be mapped for any state in the country.2 In Table 1, the categories are listed in terms of both average wind speed, and resultant wind power density available. In addition, Figure 1 shows a graphical approximation of wind resource capability according to geographical features.
Figure 1: NREL: RREDC

Wind Power * Class 1 2

10 m (33 ft) Wind Power Density (b) Speed m/s (mph) 2 (W/m ) 0 100 150 0 4.4 (9.8) 5.1 (11.5) 5.6 (12.5) 6.0 (13.4) 6.4 (14.3) 7.0 (15.7) 9.4 (21.1)

50 m (164 ft) Wind Power Density (b) Speed m/s (mph) 2 (W/m ) 0 200 300 400 500 600 800 2000 5.6 (12.5) 6.4 (14.3) 7.0 (15.7) 7.5 (16.8) 8.0 (17.9) 8.8 (19.7) 11.9 (26.6)

3 200 4 250 5 300 6 400 7 1000

Table 1: NREL Wind Atlas Categories with associated power densities and wind speeds at heights of 10 m and 50 m

Maximum power from a wind turbine, or any turbine for that matter, can be estimated using the mass flow rate across the given rotor area.

Area can be controlled by increasing or decreasing the rotor diameter, but locations must be investigated to maximize available wind, as power is most sensitive to changes in

velocity. Ideally, wind speed would be taken at each potential turbine point, and a power distribution function would be modeled off of these individual values.3 While average wind speed is a good resource for determining the ultimate power output available and technology best suited in a particular area, a more detailed analysis is necessary to define the expected supply on a day-to-day basis. In addition, directional information is important to ensure a laminar, one directional flow that is most useful to horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWTs). In locations where wind speed is low and/or direction is most variable, vertical-axis wind turbines (VAWTs) would perhaps be utilized.4

NREL also offers a theory that exposed mountain ridges and summits offer more promising wind resources than perhaps even average wind speed as a result of the relative topography and orientation to prevailing winds. A Venturi speed-up effect happens as the wind goes over these ridges and the flows are compressed.5 This instance has already been utilized by TVA with the one wind energy generation plant in East Tennessee on Buffalo Mountain (see Figure 2 below).

Figure 2: Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm, picture courtesy of American Council on Renewable Energy.

GIS has long been used along with various data mining sources to graphically analyze the wind available in particular regions across the world.6,7 The main benefit behind this method is to utilize existing infrastructure and historical data. After any necessary modifications in format are made, the same data used for the sciences of meteorology and environmental studies can be employed in modern studies of energy implementation such as these. 2.2 Airfoil Design Geographic wind availability may indicate potential for wind energy generation, but the technology for sourcing this energy can severely curtail ultimate power generation if not developed in an optimum way. Improvements in airfoil design can be a method in which efficiency gains maximize the power generation of wind farms.

In design of airfoils for use in HAWTs, the NACA 63-4XX and NACA 63-6XX series have already been developed. There have also been improvements in by the DU xx-W-xxx series, the S8xx series, and the Riso-A1-xxx series. General design goals include high maximum lift to drag ratio, high maximum lift, and insensitivity to leading edge roughness,8 as HAWTs are generally lift based mechanisms. VAWTs, such as Darrieus and Savonius Rotor designs, are generally drag based9, so their airfoil design characteristics will have different goals. Lift and L/D maximization goals contribute toward increasing power generation, in the same way that the thrust available in aircraft engines increases available power, albeit with a dependency on velocity. The other design goal of insensitivity to roughness is necessary, especially in wind turbine usage, to eliminate effects of particulate matter on aerodynamic performance. Roughness can lead to quicker transition of laminar to turbulent flow if the airfoil is not sufficiently insensitive. In order to increase insensitivity to roughness, several techniques can be employed, that can both negatively and positively affect the other design goals of lift and lift/drag maximization. One means of theoretically affecting the roughness sensitivity is optimizing the maximum thickness, upper surface thickness, and transition point thickness10 (see Figure 3).

Figure 3: Wind turbine airfoil study by Delft University of Technology

Coefficient of lift is approximated by a polar analysis of the design airfoil, and is wont to be maximized in order to produce maximum lift, but simultaneous tests must be done to take

into account the total drag on the airfoil, and is represented by the lift to drag ratio. Many leading edge roughness design constraints reduce drag while also reducing lift, so numerical analysis is often utilized to optimize all of these parameters.11 3. Assessment Methodology 3.1 Geographic Study The GIS data and shapefiles used in this study are wind speed categories from the nation-wide from the NREL with direct application to wind energy availability. The map developed from this data can give a general idea of which areas have the most potential for wind power generation. Further investigation into wind direction, variability, and other factors like land management and environmental concerns, is the next step in location determination. Wind roses are one source that tracks cardinal direction as well as speed in those directions. The wind roses utilized for this study were for Knoxville, Tennessee. Data was collected monthly for the year 1961 and 2012 to account for long term changes in the cyclical pattern. A sample distributed by hour was taken through the months of July and December. This method allowed a diurnal cycle to be established to the differences between seasonal patterns to be investigated. 3.2 Airfoil Design In designing a unique airfoil for use in this atypical environment, several factors needed to be examined. Along with various resources of study and theory, the program Xfoil developed by MIT was used as the main design analysis tool. The design concepts observed were: delineating an optimum airfoil thickness, creating an ideal camber line, and maximizing the lift to drag ratio for peak power generation. Polars were evaluated for different basis airfoils of NACA design, with several graphical parameters changed. The effects of the changes

on the lift to drag ratio and maximum lift were examined, and the best combination of these constituents was evaluated. 4. Results and Discussion 4.1 Geographic Study The GIS results from the NREL data can be found in Figure 4a-c below. From these figures, it is easy to see that premium wind energy sites are located along areas of elevation, near the Cumberland Plateau and Smoky Mountains. For further elaboration, see the topographical map of the area in Appendix A. The regions marked here as upper-division classes (found mostly along the mountain ridges at the Tennessee/North Carolina border) have been identified as suitable for wind energy development. According to the NREL wind energy assessment, the locations found in mountainous regions are indicative of such areas as exposed hilltops and ridge crests. However, as these numbers are based on mean wind values, they may not indicate high variability in wind resource in accordance with local terrain differences. It is probably best to use this location evaluation as a guideline, and for exact spots to be scouted and assessed before development is undertaken.

Figure 4a: The GIS data of Tennessee where white indicates NREL Wind Power Class 1 and black indicates Wind Power Class 7.

Figure 4b: Inset of East Tennessee where white indicates NREL Wind Power Class 1 and black indicates Wind Power Class 7.

Figure 4c: Inset of Mid-East Tennessee where white indicates NREL Wind Power Class 1 and black indicates Wind Power Class 7.

In addition to average wind speed as categorized by the NREL study, wind roses for Knoxville, TN were studied to examine the temporal variability of the wind resource in this area. Data from the Western Regional Climate Center was gathered from the wind roses available over a period of time. In addition to annual, seasonal patterns, a diurnal distribution was also analyzed In Figure 5, it is easy to see the pattern of wind behavior over the course of a year. While average wind speed stays around the same, the maximum values taper off in the summer months and gain speed in the winter months. This is not ideal, as in electricity demand is typically higher in the summer, and lower in the winter when households generally use natural gas or other heating methods to heat water and spaces. The mean behavior is important to note in regards to expectations of power generation and costs, but the variability in maximum wind speeds can offer insight into available power at peak demand.

Figure 5: Average and maximum wind speed data for Knoxville, TN in 2012.

It is also interesting to note the change in wind behavior over the course of time in the long term. The same data available for the year 1961 can be found in figure 6a, and the change during these years is found in 6b. While the trends have remained similar, the average speeds have dropped about 1 m/s across the board. This may not have much effect on the feasibility of wind energy at present, but it should definitely be monitored to examine whether this trend continues. The effects could range from eliminating wind energy as a

possible energy source to other more serious climatological consequences.

Nevertheless, the diurnal trend present regardless of seasonal variation matches the electricity demand. Power need is generally highest in late afternoon, when children get out of school and workers come home from their jobs, and lowest during the day, when no one is home. These findings can perhaps establish some argument to the criticism of sporadic availability in wind as a power source.

Figure 6a: Average and maximum wind speed data for Knoxville, TN in 1961.

Figure 7: Average Daily Wind Speed Variation in July and December of 2012.

4.2 Airfoil Design The Xfoil analysis of airfoils designed was undertaken using the direct analysis method of the program. There is also an inverse analysis method, but this study sought to see what incremental geometrical changes to particular airfoils did to their aerodynamic performance. The basis airfoil used in these assessments was the NACA 6XXXXX series, the airfoil developed for use in HAWTs, while various other airfoils were used for comparison purposes. The first design constraint for analysis was the maximum thickness, and its effect on lift, and lift to drag ratio. Five foils (see Appendix B) based off of the NACA 6XXXXX series with differing thickness, ranging from 21% to 25%, were analyzed for the aerodynamic performances (Figure 8).

Figure 6b: Change in average wind speed from 1961 to 2012.

Regarding the daily pattern, Figure 7 shows the hourly variation in two months of the year 2012. This pattern is more advantageous for usage in the electricity grid with the highest wind speeds available in the late afternoon and evening hours, with the smallest wind speeds occurring in the dead hours of the morning. Even across seasons, from the two months shown (July and December) the patterns remained similar, suggesting that they were not significantly affected by seasons. The one noticeable difference was that the range throughout the day was lower in summer than in winter, which is in accordance with the lower mean wind speed in winter months.

Figure 8: L/D for six different airfoils ranging in thickness from 0.12 to 0.25

As is obvious from Figure 8, the maximum thickness of the airfoil significantly affects the lift to drag ratio. This relationship was outlined before, in stating that various design components would be beneficial to decreasing sensitivity to roughness, but detrimental to both maximum lift and lift to drag ratio. It is, however, possible to optimize the effect, while keeping both positive aspects. It is perhaps hard to tell in these figures, but for the smaller thicknesses, the L/D relationships are very close, almost overlapping. As the thicknesses increase, the changes become more drastic, indicating that there is a point where the benefit gained in insensitivity to roughness through increasing thickness is surpassed by the negative effects in the lift to drag ratio. It is more apparent, as seen in Figure 9 and 10 that the maximum lift and maximum lift to drag ratio are adversely affected by the increase in thickness. While L/D remains fairly constant until a thickness value of about 0.18, where it drops off steeply, the lift behavior is more extreme, but consistent with the previous findings.

Figure 9: Maximum lift to drag ratio of the six airfoils of varying thickness found in Appendix B.

Figure 10: Maximum lift coefficient of the six airfoils of varying thickness found in Appendix B.

In this series of airfoils, this point of contention was found to be around 18%, although other studies have found the best thickness to be about 21%. The next design constraint analyzed was the behavior of the camber line, or more specifically, the high point of the camber line. A series of airfoils was developed with increasing camber positions, a 610XX, 620XX, 630XX, and

640XX series were all compared with respect to aerodynamic properties at stall. In improving sensitivity to surface roughness, the goal is to make the laminar to turbulent behavior of the airflow as close to the leading edge as possible, at angles of attack post-CLmax. In Appendix C, the flow behavior across the airfoils at an of 15 is shown. At a higher asymmetry across the airfoil, it is shown that the transition of laminar to turbulent flow is moved closer to the leading edge. Therefore, increasing the camber line can be said to increase insensitivity to roughness. However, this design point is again contrary to increasing L/D, so an optimization of both components would be necessary. A numerical analysis is ideal, but a general value of 10% camber has been accepted (NACA 62021). Finally a design implementation is necessary to maximize lift available. An angling of the trailing edge of the airfoil (as seen in Appendix D) was found to significantly increase the lift across angles of attack, when all other things were equal, see Figure 9.

Figure 11: This chart shows the increase in lift as a result of a trailing edge modification on the NACA 62021 series airfoil.

From the pressure vector graphs found in Appendix C, it can be inferred that the trailing edge modification significantly increased the magnitude of the vector across the top of the airfoil, and mostly decreased CP across the bottom, leading to an increase in maximum lift. The increase under the new trailing edge did

not apparently affect the lift generated, especially at low angles of attack. The resultant airfoil takes into account the previous conclusions in its design, seen in Figure 12. Based off of the NACA 62018, the optimum camber and thickness are called inherently in NACA form, but the tail rotation is graphically customized.

Figure 12: Graph of tailored airfoil

The airfoils polar assessment can be found in Figure 13, resulting in a maximum lift coefficient at about 1.74, at an angle of attack of around 10.2. This is higher than any of the individual test cases.

Figure 14: CPV of tailored airfoil.

Figure 14 shows a pressure vector display of the airfoil at maximum lift ( = 10.2). There is clearly an indication of positive lift, the pressure vectors along the top of the airfoil, while drag, the components along the bottom, has been relatively minimized.
Figure 13: Aerodynamic Performance

4.3 Environmental Assessment While wind energy developments may be less destructive than fossil fuels in terms of emissions and other spectrums of environmental friendliness, but they are not without fault. Factors that influence the intrusiveness of wind farms include noise pollution, effects on wildlife and habitat, as well as impacts on land and seascapes in regards to tourism and community value. Though studies such as those outlined in Table 2 have shown that bird, bat, and other avian fatalities are next to negligible and more obvious in the short term compared to other human and natural factors,12 it is important to keep these impacts in mind and to minimize them as much as possible. This can be managed through conscious siting practices, including thorough habitat and migratory avoidance, and operation procedures like ceasing processes in bad weather. For Eastern Tennessee on exposed, rocky ridges in particular the focus of this study, special attention must be paid to migratory bat population. During migratory season (late summer) bat mortality rate has been shown to climb as high as 20 bats per turbine per year13at the currently active Buffalo Mountain Wind Farm. If migratory patterns remain similar, however, energy production could be planned around bat population movement, as summer nights have been shown above to be some of the least wind power dense periods throughout the year. Turbine type is also a significant aspect of aviary mortality. For example, lattice type tower structures provide roosting prospects for local wildlife, attracting rather than discouraging birdlife from interaction with the wind turbines. Further, VAWTs have been shown to be safer than prop-type turbines in bird mortality rates, for their more easily avoidable structural pattern.

Table 2: From Saidur, et al, this table outlines the relative danger that wind turbines pose to wildlife as compared to other human-related causes.

The next most common concern with respect to wind is noise pollution, possibly resulting in decreased property values and creating unpleasant environments for residential areas. An obvious solution to this problem is to site wind farms at a clear distance from areas that might be affected. In this studys focus area, this can be achieved easily, as most regions of East Tennessee and the surrounding Appalachian range are sparsely populated. While higher infrastructure prices would be one negative consequence of this solution, this is already normal with most energy generating methods. Coal, natural gas, and crude oil are all mined and refined at considerable distances from their demand locations. A second, and perhaps more fitting option to consider, is the utilization of VAWTs, like the Darrieus and HRotor type of turbine. These create less noise,14 and if chosen at a small size, would be less environmentally impactful to wildlife. VAWTs are not typically implemented because of their low density in power generation, but because of the smaller wind speed availability in this area would perhaps be a good tradeoff in terms of environmental impact. 5. Conclusion

In covering a wind feasibility study in this region taking into account geographic and meteorological patterns, unique airfoil design, and environmental assessment, this study has been slightly exhaustive on certain points. Nevertheless, certain topics could be furthered. The goals elaborated in the airfoil design would best be suited to a numerical analysis, with weights placed on factors most important to

the implementation in various locations. On that note, more specific locations must be selected to be able to study the precise wildlife and communities affected by possible development, as well as a more detailed analysis of climatological data. Serious thought should be given to creating a wind farm of the small-scale and/or VAWT variety, garnering a layout more conducive to the lower or more turbulent wind speeds as well as the inherent intrusiveness of technological development on wildlife, human communities, and the tourism industry of the Appalachian Mountains. Wind

energy is one of the fastest growing green energy resources, and its potential should be investigated both efficiently and responsibly.

Acknowledgements: The author extends her thanks to the MABE department at the University of Tennessee: Dr. Hamel, for allowing this non-traditional project to be undertaken, and Dr. Ekici for providing his guidance and oversight.

6. Appendix A

7. Appendix B

8. Appendix C NACA 61021

NACA 62021

NACA 63021

NACA 64021

9. Appendix D NACA 62021

NACA 62021B

NACA 62021C

NACA 62021D

Rehman, Shafiqur. (2003). Wind energy resources assessment for Yanbo, Saudi Arabia. Energy Conversion & Management, 45, 2019-2032. "Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States" Renewable Resource Maps and Data. National Renewable Energy Lab. <>. Mohammadi, Kasra; Mostafaeipour, Ali. (2012). Using different methods for comprehensive study of wind turbine utilization in Zarrineh, Iran. Energy Conversion & Management, 65, 463-470. Eriksson, Sandra; Bernhoff, Hans; Leijon, Mats. (2006). Evaluation of different turbine concepts for wind power. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 12, 1419-1434. "Wind Energy Resource Atlas of the United States" Renewable Resource Maps and Data. National Renewable Energy Lab. <>. Ramachandra, T.V.; Shruthi, B.V. (2004). Wind energy potential mapping in Karnataka, India, using GIS. Energy Conversion & Management, 46, 1561-1578. Baban, Serwan M.J.; Parry, Tim. (2001). Developing and applying a GIS-assisted approach to locating wind farms in the UK. Renewable Energy, 24(1), 59-71. Dahl, Kristian S.; Fuglsang, Peter. Design of the Wind Turbine Airfoil Family RISO-A-XX. Riso National Laboratory. "Wind Turbines" CATs: Coherent Application Threads. Boston University Mechanical Engineering. Somers, D.M. (1998). Effects of Airfoil Thickness and Maximum Lift Coefficient on Roughness Sensitivity. Dahl, Kristian S.; Fuglsang, Peter. Design of the Wind Turbine Airfoil Family RISO-A-XX. Riso National Laboratory. Saidur, R. (2011). Environmental impact of wind energy. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 15, 24232430. Fiedler, Jenny K. (2004). Assessment of Bat Mortality and Activity at Buffalo Mountain Windfarm, Eastern Tennessee. Eriksson, Sandra; Bernhoff, Hans; Leijon, Mats. (2006). Evaluation of different turbine concepts for wind power. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews, 12, 1419-1434.