Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering

First Advisor

Lucy Y. Pao

Second Advisor

Patrick J. Moriarty

Third Advisor

Alan D. Wright

Fourth Advisor

Julie K. Lundquist

Fifth Advisor

Jason R. Marden


Wind turbines typically rely on feedback controllers to maximize power capture in below-rated conditions and regulate rotor speed during above-rated operation. However, measurements of the approaching wind provided by Light Detection and Ranging (lidar) can be used as part of a preview-based, or feedforward, control system in order to improve rotor speed regulation and reduce structural loads. But the effectiveness of preview-based control depends on how accurately lidar can measure the wind that will interact with the turbine.

In this thesis, lidar measurement error is determined using a statistical frequency-domain wind field model including wind evolution, or the change in turbulent wind speeds between the time they are measured and when they reach the turbine. Parameters of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) 5-MW reference turbine model are used to determine measurement error for a hub-mounted circularly-scanning lidar scenario, based on commercially-available technology, designed to estimate rotor effective uniform and shear wind speed components. By combining the wind field model, lidar model, and turbine parameters, the optimal lidar scan radius and preview distance that yield the minimum mean square measurement error, as well as the resulting minimum achievable error, are found for a variety of wind conditions. With optimized scan scenarios, it is found that relatively low measurement error can be achieved, but the attainable measurement error largely depends on the wind conditions. In addition, the impact of the induction zone, the region upstream of the turbine where the approaching wind speeds are reduced, as well as turbine yaw error on measurement quality is analyzed.

In order to minimize the mean square measurement error, an optimal measurement prefilter is employed, which depends on statistics of the correlation between the preview measurements and the wind that interacts with the turbine. However, because the wind speeds encountered by the turbine are unknown, a Kalman filter-based wind speed estimator is developed that relies on turbine sensor outputs. Using simulated lidar measurements in conjunction with wind speed estimator outputs based on aeroelastic simulations of the NREL 5-MW turbine model, it is shown how the optimal prefilter can adapt to varying degrees of measurement quality.