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Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering

Design and Certification of Small

Wind Turbines
David Wood
NSERC/ENMAX Professor of Renewable Energy

Small Wind Turbines

Small turbines come in a wide variety of shapes. There

is no established design as for large wind turbines

• Basic features of IEC 61400-2
• The Simple Load Model (SLM)
• Blade Loads
• Tower Loads
• Problems with SLM
• Conclusions


Extreme wind loads on freewheeling blades

Methods for Design and Analysis

Turbine Analysis Methods

• The Simplified Load Model
• Aero-elastic analysis as for
large turbines
• Field testing as for large


The IEC Simplified Load Model
Design load Cases
Design Situation
Type of
Simple equations and large safety
A Normal Operation Fatigue factors.
B Yawing Ultimate
Power production
C Yaw Error Ultimate
Load Case B is usually the largest for blades and
D Maximum Thrust Ultimate generator shaft
Power production plus E Maximum Rotational Speed Ultimate
occurrence of fault F Short at Load Connection Ultimate Load Case H is usually the largest for the tower
Shutdown G Shutdown (Braking) Ultimate

Parked (Idling or Standstill) H Parked Wind Loading Ultimate Only Case A is a fatigue load
Parked at fault conditions I Parked Wind Loading (maximum Exposure) Ultimate
Transport, assembly,
J To be Stated by Manufacturer Ultimate
maintenance and repair

The main loads are the blade Condition Full Characterisation Minimal Characterisation

root loads and shaft loads Fatigue strength

Ultimate strength



Load determination method

Safety factor for fatigue
loads, gf
Safety factor for ultimate
loads, gf Material safety factors are the
Simple load calculation 1.0 3.0 same for the SLM and aero-
Aero-elastic modelling with design data
1.0 1.35
elastic modeling
(rpm, power)

Load measurements with extrapolation 1.0 3.0

But some equations are exact …….

500 W three bladed 1.94m HAWT at the University

of Newcastle
Blade with strain gauges

Measurements by Surt Wilson

Close up of one strain gauge


50 Equation for the blade root bending

Root bending moment (Nm)
Average moment (Nm)
moment in the SLM
Average + 2JΩω (Nm)
30 Average - 2JΩω (Nm) M 0,max 2
= 2 J Ω maxωmax + mbωmax Lrt Rcog + ( Qλ )design

10 The first term is the maximum

value of the gyroscopic moment –
0 this term is exact. Why should it
have a safety factor of 3?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Time (s)
10 The gyroscopic load is the main
8 load. It is transmitted to the main
Wind speed (ms) shaft, generator, and tower
4 Ω (x100 rpm)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 J – blade inertia
200 Ωmax – max. blade rpm
Yaw rate °(/s)
Turbine yaw (°)
ωmax – max yaw rate

Wilson, S. V. R, Clausen, P. D. and Wood, D. H. (2008).
“Gyroscopic Moments on Small Wind Turbines Blades at High
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Yaw Rates”, Trans IE Aust, Aus. J. Mech. Engg, 5, 1 - 9.
Time (s)

Tower Design

Main Requirements
But .... badly designed turbines are
• Maximum tensile stress does not
exceed allowable material stress

• Does not buckle. Not specifically

covered in SLM

• Tower natural frequency does not

interact with blade passing frequency

• Tower top deflection is not excessive,

say < 5% of tower height. Not
specifically covered in SLM

IEC 61400-2 says:

“support structures shall also
meet local codes and


Monopole Tower Design (1)

The simplest tower – the monopole. The bending
moment on tower at distance y from top: 18 m octagonal tower for a
But .... badly designed turbines are 5 kW wind turbine
( y ) = M 0 + Tmax y + 2 ρU 2 Cd ∫ yd ( y ) dy
M noisy

M0 – gyroscopic or other moment

Tmax – turbine thrust
Cd - tower drag coefficient
ρ,U - density and wind speed
(assumed constant)
d - “diameter”
M ( y )d ( y )
σ b,max =
2I ( y)
I(y) –moment of area and

σ max = σ b, max +
[ mtt + mt ( y)] g
A( y)
σmax is the axial stress due to the
bending moment and mass of turbine
mtt and tower, mt, and tower cross-
sectional area A

Monopole Tower Design (2)

Design uses Capacity Factor, CF to relate actual maximum stress to limiting stress, either
UTS or buckling
But resistance,
.... badly designedFA: turbines are

noisy CF = σ max / FA
Most “local codes” have CF ≈ 0.6, SLM has CF ≈ 1/3. Using SLM CF would double
the weight of the tower and double the cost. The drag coefficient, Cd, used in the
analysis is well known for simple geometries so why is the high safety factor (low
CF) used????

Height, h 18 m No. sections 3 Wind speed 50 m/s

Turbine mass,
170 kg Thrust, Tmax 2200 N Elastic modulus 200 GPa
Top diameter, Drag
0.17 m Base diameter dh 0.41 m 1.4
do coefficient, Cd
UTS, Fy 350 MPa Material density ρtower Tower mass, mt 531 kg
Section Bottom section
3.75 mm 4.3 mm
thickness t1, t2 thickness, t3


Duration Testing

IEC Duration (field) testing must then be done


IEC 61400-2 Simplified Load Model is a simple way to design a

• Simple equations + high safety factors
• Emphasis on blades and generator shaft
• High safety factor even when equations are well known
These safety factors are not consistent with those used in
wind loading “local codes”
• With changes the SLM could be very useful
• More data on small wind turbine loads is needed