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Chapter 10

The Blade Element Momentum (BEM)


Abstract The current chapter presents the blade element momentum (BEM) method.
The BEM method for a steady uniform inflow is presented in a first section. Some of
the ad-hoc corrections that are usually added to the algorithm are discussed in a sec-
ond section. An exception is made to the tip-loss correction which is introduced early
in the algorithm formulation for practical reasons. The ad-hoc corrections presented
are: the tip-loss correction, the high-thrust correction (momentum breakdown) and
the correction for wake rotation. The formulation of an unsteady BEM code is given
in a third section. The dynamic effects discussed are the dynamic wake/inflow model,
the yaw and tilt model, the dynamic stall model, and models for the interference of
the tower and nacelle. Some examples of steady and unsteady BEM simulations are
given in a last section. The source code of a steady and unsteady BEM algorithm
implemented in Matlab is given at the end of the chapter. The description of the
BEM method includes the latest correction models that are derived and presented in
Part IV.
Introduction The blade element momentum BEM method originates from the com-
bination of the momentum theory (MT) and the blade element theory (BET). The
BEM algorithm is used to determine the performance of a given rotor geometry under
some known operating conditions: free-stream U0 , rotational speed , pitch angle ,
yaw angle, wind shear, turbulence intensity, etc. The original algorithm as described
by Glauert [12] is intended to describe the performance of a rotor with an infinite
number of blades operating in a steady uniform inflow. Different ad-hoc corrections
are usually added to this standard algorithm to relax its assumptions and improve its
predicting performances. Despite the simplicity of the MT and BET equations, the
link between the two theories is not trivial. Different BEM formulations exist and
some aspects of the algorithm are still open to discussions.

Springer International Publishing AG 2017 181

E. Branlard, Wind Turbine Aerodynamics and Vorticity-Based Methods,
Research Topics in Wind Energy 7, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-55164-7_10
182 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

10.1 The BEM Method for a Steady Uniform Inflow

10.1.1 Introduction

Figure 10.1 illustrates how the momentum theory and blade element theory are com-
bined to form the BEM algorithm. Most BEM implementations, including the one
from Glauert, rely on the streamtube-theory (ST) version of the momentum theory
(see Sect. 9.5) so that the different radial positions are assumed to be independent.
The possibility to circumvent this assumption is presented in Chap. 19. To shorten
notations, the dependency in r will be omitted in most of the chapter. The streamtube
momentum theory applied to an elementary annulus of radius r provides the elemen-
tary thrust and torque dT and dQ for given induction factors a and a  or vice-versa.
The velocity triangle from the momentum theory also gives an expression of the
flow angle as function of a and a  . The blade element theory requires the airfoil
characteristics, the angle of attack (determined from the flow angle and the twist
and pitch of the blade) and the relative velocity to calculate the lift and drag forces
applied to the blade element. The projection of these forces leads to the elementary
thrust and torque. For a given rotor geometry and a given wind condition, a solution
is found when both methods are in agreement for all the different stripes. In order to
find this solution, the methods are combined together to form a converging iterative
process. An initial guess on the induction parameters a0 and a0 is used to initialize the
algorithm. The author likes to emphasize two links, or linkage, to clearly distinguish
the difference of the methods and how they interact. The first linkage is obtained by
comparing the velocity triangles of the two methods. The second linkage consists in
equalizing the loads obtained from both methods. In practice the implementation of
the BEM algorithm is slightly different from the one shown on Fig. 10.1 because the
succession of blocks can be simplified mathematically. The final algorithm will be
presented in Sect. 10.1.5 after derivation of the linkage equations and simplifications.

Momentum theory
a0 , a0
a, a dT, dQ

1st link 2nd link

a, a
Blade Element Momentum theory rhub
Convergence loop

Blade Element theory

,Vrel dT, dQ

Fig. 10.1 Scheme illustrating the BEM method. The method results in the combination of both the
momentum theory (MT) and the blade element theory (BET)
10.1 The BEM Method for a Steady Uniform Inflow 183

10.1.2 First Linkage: Velocity Triangle and Induction Factors

The first linkage consists in relating the induction factors from the momentum theory
to the velocity triangle of the blade element theory. The different concepts involved
are presented before addressing the question of number of blades. A choice is required
to proceed with the first linkage.
Induction factors in the rotor plane The coordinate system of Fig. 9.1 is adopted.
The velocity of the air at any point in the rotor plane is U (r, ) = U0 e z + W =
(Ur (r, ), U (r, ), Uz (r, )) where W is the induced velocity due to the presence of
the rotor. Since the rotational speed and freestream velocity U0 are assumed known,
it is possible to define the axial and tangential velocity components as function of
two dimensionless parameters: the axial and tangential induction factors a and a 
defined such as (see also Sect. 4.4):

Uz (r, ) = U0 (1 a(r, )), U (r, ) = r a  (r, ) (10.1)

It is noted that a factor 2 is present in Eq. 9.60 since the tangential velocity is expressed
behind the rotor. For a rotor with finite number of blades, the inductions vary with
the azimuth and take higher values near the blade. This is illustrated for the axial
induction in Fig. 13.2.
Blade element theory inductions The BET determines the loads on the blades
based on the relative velocity of the air near the blade with respect to the rotor. This
relative velocity of the air, noted U rel , is illustrated in Fig. 7.2. It is decomposed into
the normal and tangential components, noted Un and Ut respectively, where Ut is
taken along the azimuthal coordinate opposite to the rotation of the rotor, i.e. e .
The axial and tangential induction factors related to U rel are noted a B and a B such

Un = U0 (1 a B ), Ut = r (1 + a B ) (10.2)

The subscript B is added to emphasize that the inductions are expressed at the blade
position in the lifting-line sense (see Sect. 4.4). For a blade (i.e. lifting-line) located
at the azimuthal position B , one has:

a B (r ) = a(r, B ), a B (r ) = a  (r, B ) (Lifting-line sense) (10.3)

The flow angle formed by U rel within a blade cross-section is illustrated in Fig. 7.2
and expressed as:

 Un (1 a B ) Un2 Un Ut
tan = = , 2
Urel = Un2 + Ut2 = = (10.4)
Ut (1 + a B )r sin
2 sin cos
184 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

Momentum theory inductions The momentum formulations were obtained for an

actuator disk of axisymmetric loading. The actuator disk can be seen as a lifting-line

model of a rotor with an infinite number of blades. The notations a and a are here
adopted to denote the axial and tangential induction factors at the actuator disk. To
apply the theory to a rotor of finite number of blades, it may be assumed that the loads
on the B blades are distributed azimuthally to form an azimuthally-uniform loading
on the disk. The inductions from the momentum theory would then be lower than the
inductions on the blade a B and a B . It can be shown that the azimuthal average of the
induced velocity a for a rotor with a finite number of lifting-line would be equal to
the actuator disk value a with an equivalent integrated loading (see e.g. Sect. 13.2.2
and [3]). The case of finite number of lifting lines will be discussed further in a later
paragraph. For a rotor with an infinite number of lifting-lines, one has a a B
and a
a B , that is: the BET and MT theories relate to the same quantity and
the same value if the theories are combined.
First linkage for an infinitely-bladed rotor using streamtube theory The case of
an infinitely-bladed rotor (actuator disk) is considered in this paragraph under the
assumption of the streamtube theory (STT), or simplified momentum theory with
wake rotation. The STT establishes the following relation for an actuator disk (see
Eq. 9.71):
r2 a (1 + a ) = a (1 a )

Given the fact that the domain of tan is R, the above relation is interpreted as:

(1 a ) a r
R / tan = 
, tan = (10.5)
(1 + a )r a

In turn, this relation can be interpreted as a velocity triangle as illustrated in Fig. 10.2
(see e.g. Wilson and Lissaman [29]). The variable is then seen to correspond to the
flow angle and is consistent with the definition from Eq. 10.4 for an infinite number
of blades (B ). This implies that for an infinitely bladed rotor, the first linkage
between the STT and BET is immediate and present no difficulty. The second part

Fig. 10.2 Velocity triangle L

obtained as a geometrical
interpretation of the
streamtube theory formula r ar
given in Eq. 9.71. The
W aU0
induced velocity W is
orthogonal to the relative
wind as a result of this U0
interpretation U rel (1 a)U0
10.1 The BEM Method for a Steady Uniform Inflow 185

of Eq. 10.5 implies that the induced velocity vector W is orthogonal to the relative
velocity U r el .
First linkage for a finite number of blades - Tip-correction For a rotor with a finite
number of blades, the actuator disk momentum theory results derived in Chap. 9 are
applied by assuming that the loads are azimuthally distributed over the disk. The
link between a B and a is not obvious since one compares a theory that applies
naturally for a finite number of blades (the BET) to a theory which inherently has
an infinite number of blades. Different choices may be made for the first linkage.
Glauert suggested to include the blade induction factors in the momentum equations
while multiplying them by a tip-loss factor F to account for the flow differences that
occur depending on the number of blades B. In the BEM formulation of Glauert, the
momentum equations Eqs. 9.72 and 9.75 become:

1 1  
dTMT = U 2 d A [4a B F(1 a B )] , dQ MT = U02 r d A 4a B F(1 a B )r
2 0 2

2 B R r
F= acose f , f = (10.7)
2 r sin

More discussions on the tip-loss correction are found in Sect. 10.2.1. The tip-loss
factor tends to unity when the number of blade tends to infinity. With the above
formulation, the first linkage consists in using Eqs. 10.6 and 10.4. The relation to the
velocity triangle is not as obvious as in the case of infinite number of blades.
Final remarks based on the choices above The velocity triangle from Eq. 10.4 will
be used to relate the induction factors to the flow angle. Hence, the orthogonality
between the induction velocity W and the relative velocity U rel is not enforced.
Different BEM formulations are found whether the orthogonality of the induction
velocity is enforced or not (see e.g. [27]).

10.1.3 Second Linkage: Thrust and Torque

from MT and BET

As shown in Fig. 10.1, the second link consists in equating the elementary thrust and
torque obtained from the MT and BET. The MT loads are defined over an annular
cross section of area d A = 2r dr while the BET loads are defined for B blade
elements of area dS = cdr . The two theories are linked by assuming that the loads
from the BET are distributed over the annular section d A. The ratio of these two
areas is the solidity as defined in Eq. 4.21. According to the blade element theory,
the elementary thrust and torque exerted on B (identical) blade elements are given
186 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

by Eqs. 7.15 and 7.16 as:

1 1
dTBT = BdFn = U 2 (Bcdr )cn , dQ BT = Br dFt = U 2 (Bcdr )r ct
2 rel 2 rel

The loads from the BET are also reported in Sect. 7.3.3 using a B and a B . The loads
from the STT are given by Eqs. 9.72 and 9.75 as:

1 1   
dTMT = U 2 (2r dr ) [4a (1 a )] , dQ MT = U02 (2r dr )r 4a (1 a )r
2 0 2

The second linkage is obtained by writing dTBT = dTMT and dQ BT = dQ MT , leading

2 2
Urel Urel 
cn = 4a (1 a ), ct = 4a (1 a )r (10.10)
U02 U02

where = Bc/2r is the local solidity factor (see Sect. 4.5).

10.1.4 BEM Equations

The linkage equations are combined to form the basic equations of the BEM algorithm
for a finite and infinite number of blades. The number of blades appears in the BET
formulae via the solidity factor and in the MT equations via the tip-loss factor
F. The BEM equations for a rotor with an infinite number of blades are directly
obtained by setting F = 1 and = 1 (i.e. Bc 2r ) in the equations of this
section. Different forms are provided for comparison with other references. The
existence of various forms is partly due to the different possible formulations of Urel
(see Eq. 4.20). Different BEM algorithms may be implemented depending on the
form chosen. In particular, the equations are presented with or without the inclusion
of the drag coefficient in the axial induction.
Simplifications using the two links Using the first link (Eq. 10.6), the derivation of
the second link (Eq. 10.10) becomes:
cn = 4a B F(1 a B ) (10.11)
ct = 4a B F(1 a B )r (10.12)

Equation 10.11 is simplified using Urel2

sin2 = U02 (1 a B )2 and Eq. 10.12 is sim-
plified using Urel sin cos = U0 (1 a B )r (1 + a B ) (see Eq. 4.20), which gives:
10.1 The BEM Method for a Steady Uniform Inflow 187

aB 1 cB
= cn = cn (10.13)
1 aB 4F sin 2r
4F sin2
a B 1 cB
 = ct = ct (10.14)
1 + aB 4F sin cos 2r 4F sin cos

The equations are rearranged (for comparison with e.g. [18]) as:

1 1 cn 1 1 ct
=1+ , =1 (10.15)
1 aB 4F tan2 cos2 1 + a B 4F tan2 cos2

The induction factors are solved from Eqs. 10.13 and 10.14 as:

1 1
aB = , a B = (10.16)
4F sin2 4F sin cos
+1 1
cn ct

Equations in terms of thrust and torque coefficients Instead of equating the local
thrust and torque dT and dQ from MT and BET, it is equivalent to equate the
dimensionless thrust and torque coefficients from the theories (i.e. Eq. 9.77 with
7.34 and Eq. 9.78 with 7.35). Equations 10.11 and 10.12 become then
Ct,BT = 4a B F(1 a B ) a B = f aC t
Ct,BT (10.17)
Cq,BT = 4a B F(1 a B )r a B = (10.18)
4F(1 a B )r

The function f aCt has been introduced to express the relation between a B and Ct .
Using the STT, the a Ct function is f aCt = 4a B F(1 a B ) and hence the inverse
  1 Ct,BT
a B = f aCt Ct,BT = 1 1 (10.19)
2 F

The form taken by Eq. 10.17 is convenient since it gives the possibility to provide
an empirical a Ct relationship. The importance of this relation is discussed in
Sect. 10.2.2 where the high-thrust correction is introduced.
Equations without drag It is argued by some authors that the drag coefficient Cd
should be set to zero in the calculation of the induction factors. Some references
advise not to include the drag [10, 17, 29] while others do [1, 13]. Argumentations
on the topic are found e.g. in Burton et al. [7, p. 63] and Manwell et al. [21]. Even
if the drag is ignored in the calculation of a and a  , the drag contribution should be
included to compute the final loads that are used to assess the performance of the
rotor. With Cd = 0, Eqs. 10.13 and 10.14 reduces to
188 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

aB cos
= Cl (10.20)
1 aB 4F sin2
a B
 = Cl (10.21)
1 + aB 4F cos

Equation 10.16 becomes:

1 1
aB = , a B = (10.22)
4F sin2 4F cos
+1 1
Cl cos Cl

Using the two equations above with the definition of (Eq. 10.4), an expression is
obtained for the lift coefficient after some algebra:

4 sin cos r sin

Cl = (10.23)
sin + r cos

When the drag is omitted, the ratio of the two loading coefficients reduces to a simple
function of (see Sect.

Cq,BT Ut r (1 + a B )
= = = tan (10.24)
Ct,BT Un 1 aB

Also, the ratio of Eqs. 10.21 and 10.20, together with the definition of the flow angle
from Eq. 10.4 gives:

a B (1 a B ) r a B
= tan2 tan = (10.25)
a B (1 + a B ) aB

The above is identical to the second part of Eq. 10.5. Hence when the drag is ignored,
the condition of orthogonality between the induced velocity and the relative velocity
is satisfied. This condition was not enforced in the previous paragraph since only
Eq. 10.4 was used (i.e. the first part of Eq. 10.5).

10.1.5 Summary of the BEM Algorithm

The BEM algorithm falls within the formalism of the more-general family of lifting-
line algorithm presented in Sect. 19.3.1. A Matlab implementation of the algorithm
is given in Sect. 10.4.2. The dependencies between the different variables of the BEM
algorithm are highlighted below:
10.1 The BEM Method for a Steady Uniform Inflow 189

iteration n + 1 = f (iteration n)
= (a B , a B )
= ()
cn = cn (, )
ct = ct (, )
F = F()
a B = a B (F, , cn )
a B = a B (F, , ct )

All the variables above are also dependent on the radial position. The BEM algorithm
is by nature an implicit problem, due to the interdependencies between the parameters,
and a non-linear problem mainly due to the non-linearity introduced by the profile
polars: Cl (), Cd (). The problem can be solved using non-linear solution techniques
but it is more practical to use a simple iterative process where an iteration loop is
used until convergence is reached. This approach is presented below.
The hypothesis of independence of each stripe (i.e. radial positions) imply that the
convergence loop and the loop over the different stripes may be indifferently swapped.
Some radial positions converge slower than others, so it may be advantageous to loop
first on the number of iteration and then on the number of radial positions. Yet, the
opposite order may also have its benefit: the computations at all radial positions
can be computed in a vectorial way. Another advantage of having the loop on radial
positions as the inner loop is that the wake rotation correction and the tip-loss function
from helical theory can more easily be computed (see Sect. 10.2).
The convergence criteria may be implemented in several ways depending on the
choice of loop order. The choice of the variable on which the convergence is tested
is multiple as well with the most common choices being: the angle of attack, the
induction factor or the total power. The induction factors a B and a B are chosen
as main parameters below and the convergence is done for each radial position
independently. The core of the BEM iteration loop for a given geometry, tip speed
ratio and airfoil data at a given radial position r is:
0. Initial guesses for a B and a B .
1. Compute the normal and tangential velocities Un = U0 (1a B ), Ut = r (1+a B ).
2. Compute the flow angle with Eq. 10.4.
Compute the tip-loss factor F from Eq. 10.7.
3. Compute the angle of attack = (twist + pitch).
4. Calculate Cl () and Cd () from the airfoil data.

5. Project the lift and drag coefficients:

cn = Cl cos + Cd sin , ct = Cl sin Cd cos (10.26)

190 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

Un2 +Ut2
Compute the local thrust and torque coefficients: Ct = U02
cn , Cq =
Un2 +Ut2

Compute the total rotor circulation = B 21 Un2 + Ut2 cCl
6. Compute new values of a B and a B from Eq. 10.16 (or Eq. 10.22 or Eq. 10.18 and
Eq. 10.17).
Apply high-thrust correction (see Sect. 10.2.2).
Apply wake rotation correction (see Sect. 10.2.3).
Perform relaxation on a based on the previous value.
7. Go back to step 2 until the value of has converged.
Once the algorithm has converged for all radial positions, the total loads and dimen-
sionless coefficients given in Sect. 4.3 are computed:

 2  2
CT = rCt (r )dr, CP = r r Cq (r )dr (10.27)
R2 rhub R2 rhub

Reproducing the calculations for different operating conditions (e.g. U0 or ) allows

the determination of the characteristic aerodynamic performance of a given rotor
geometry. Typical applications are given in Sect. 10.4.1 and a BEM program is given
in Sect. 10.4.2.

10.2 Common Corrections to the Steady BEM Method

Several corrections are applied to the BEM algorithm presented in the previous
section in order to the improve predicting performance of the code. The following
corrections are highly recommended in order to obtain satisfying results in a steady
BEM code: the tip-loss factor, the high-thrust correction and the wake-rotation cor-
rection. 3D airfoil corrections are discussed in Chap. 6.

10.2.1 Discrete Number of Blades, Tip-Losses

and Hub-Losses

Tip-losses Tip-losses refer to the flow difference expected between a rotor of respec-
tively a finite and an infinite number of blades. The study of this phenomenon is
discussed in details in Chap. 13. The earliest contribution on the topic are attributed
to the work of Prandtl who derived a tip-loss factor F to be applied to Betz optimal
circulation to obtain the optimal circulation for a finite number of blades. Glauert
suggested to account for tip-losses in the BEM algorithm by introducing a version of
the multiplicative factor F in the equations. This is the approach that was followed
in the previous section (see Sect. 10.1.2) where Glauerts expression of the tip-loss
10.2 Common Corrections to the Steady BEM Method 191

factor was used. Other expressions for the factor F are given in Sect. 13.4. The tip-
loss factor is introduced to take into account the effects due to a finite number of
blades. Indeed, the momentum formulations were obtained for an actuator disk of
azimuthally invariant loading, which can be seen as a lifting-line model of a rotor
with an infinite number of blades. The term U0 (1a ) d A that appears in Eq. 10.6 is
related to the term u n dS in the momentum Eqs. 9.19.3. This term corresponds to
the mass flow through the rotor area. On the other hand the term U0 a = U0 Uz,w is
related to the change of momentum in the control volume. Given Eq. 10.6, the factor
F can be thought to be applied as a correction to the mass flow or as a correction to
the change of momentum. In light of Sect. 13.2.2, the tip loss factor may be thought
as a correction applied on the induction factor such that a B = Fa . Controversy
exists regarding the application of the tip-loss factor, whether it should be considered
to be applied on the momentum change, the flow rate, both, and/or on the induction
Advanced analytical tip-loss model using helical vortex The tip-loss model of
Prandtl and Glauert can be improved by accounting for the distribution of circula-
tion along the blade span and improving the modelling of the wake geometry. The
approach is presented in Chap. 20. The wake is modelled as a superposition of trailed
semi-infinite helical filaments which intensities are given as the radial derivative of
the circulation distribution along the blade: t,B = d B /dr . The induced velocity
from B equally azimuthally-spaced semi-infinite helical filaments of intensity t,B
and of helical pitch h, emitted as the radial position r  is given in Eq. 39.7. For a
position r on the radial line (i.e. along the blade, in the rotor plane where z = 0),
the helical coordinate is = z/l = = 0. The axial velocity induced by the
B helices at this point is written u z,helix (r, r  , h, B, t,B ). The expression of u z,helix
is given in Eq. 39.7 and the Matlab function fUi_HelixNTheory is provided in
Sect. 14.3.2 to compute this velocity. The velocity induced by all the helical filaments
at a given radial position r on the lifting line is obtained by integration over the span:

u z,B (r ) = u z,helix r, r  , h(r  ), B, t,B (r  ) dr  u z,helix r, r j , h j , B, t,B, j
rhub j

In practice, the above integration is performed as a summation. The radial positions

of the helices r  are taken as discrete positions ranging from rhub to R. The BEM
control points r are taken in between these coordinates.
At a given radial position on the blade, the natural tip-loss factor is obtained as
the ratio between the total induced velocity from the helical vortex filaments of the
infinitely-bladed case to the induced velocity of the finitely-bladed case:

a u z, (r )
F(r ) = = (10.29)
aB u z,B (r )
192 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

The natural and planar tip-loss factor are defined in Chap. 13. The tip-loss factor is
given using the natural definition in Eq. 10.29 but the planar definition could be used
indifferently since they are identical in this context (see Sect. 13.2.2).
The induced velocity for a rotor with an infinite number of blades, u z, , are
obtained as follows. The limit of the helical vortex wake model as the number of
blades goes to infinity is the cylindrical vortex wake model (see Sect. 5.2). The
tangential surface vorticity of the vortex cylinder emitted at the radial position r  is
given by t (r  ) = t (r  )/ h(r  ) (see Sect. 5.2.3). Each vortex cylinder induces a
velocity equal to 0 for r > r  and equal to t /2 for r < r  . Assuming a large tip-speed
ratio, it can be shown that the velocity induced by the superposition of cylinders in
the rotor plane is (see Appendix A.3)

B (r )
u z, (r ) (10.30)
h(r )

The tip-loss factor is then determined analytically by the knowledge of the circulation
distribution B and the helical pitch h using Eq. 10.29. The helical pitch may be
determined simply using the velocity triangle, as given in Eq. 20.1. A more advanced
implementation should use the formula of the pitch obtained from the superposition of
vortex cylinders presented in Chap. 18. The latter relation satisfies better the vorticity
kinematics of the vortex cylinders. Result from the implementation of this tip-loss
factor are presented in Chap. 20.
Hub-losses Some BEM implementations include a hub-loss model to account for
the effect of the hub-vortex generated if the blade terminates before the rotational
axis, i.e. if rhub > 0. The function F in the BEM algorithm is then taken as the
product of the hub-loss and tip-loss factors: F = Ftip Fhub . In general, the loads
near the root are not contributing significantly to the total power and the hub-losses
may be neglected. These losses may become important if the hub radius becomes an
important fraction of the rotor radius. An implementation similar to Prandtl tip-loss
factor is suggested as follows (see e.g. [14, 22]):

2 B r rhub
Fhub = acos exp (10.31)
2 rhub sin

Yet, the nature of these losses are somewhat different to the tip-losses and the use of a
similar form is purely done for modelling convenience. Many BEM implementations
do not apply Eq. 10.31 since the research on the topic of hub-losses is not as extended
and this formula has not been validated. The helical vortex tip-loss model discussed in
the previous paragraph inherently include the hub-loss effect and its implementation
should then be preferred.
10.2 Common Corrections to the Steady BEM Method 193

10.2.2 Correction Due to Momentum Theory Breakdown -

a C t Relations

In this section the notation a is used instead of a B and Ct is used instead of Ct,BT
to shorten notations. The streamtube theory is considered valid for small expansion
of the wake. Yet, this assumption fails for large values of the axial induction factor
and the thrust coefficient when the rotor is said to be in a turbulent wake state. The
streamtube theory equation Uw = U0 (1 2a) is not physical for a wind turbine
with a above 0.5 since this would imply a negative velocity in the far wake. Further,
comparison with measurements shows that BEM results are not in agreement with
real rotor flow when the axial induction factor a is over a critical value ac usually
taken around 0.4. Several empirical relations have been derived to extend the range
of validity of the model via an empirical a Ct relationship. The models are referred
to as high-thrust corrections. The models of Glauert and Spera ensure continuity
of Ct and its first derivative at the critical point ac . A graphical comparison of the
different corrections is found on Fig. 10.3.
Glauerts correction The following correction introduced by Glauert [12] uses a
third order polynomial between a = ac = 1/3 and a = 1 so that the thrust coefficient
at a = 1 equals 2:
(1 a)
4a F   for a 3 i.e. f G = 1
Ct = 4a F (1 f G a) =
4a F 1 41 (5 3a)a for a > 13 i.e. f G = 41 (5 3a)

For a > 1/3, this relation is inverted using the expression of the local thrust coeffi-
cient from the STT (Eq. 9.77) to obtain a as:
a = Root K + a(1 + 4F + 2K ) a 2 (5F + K ) + 3Fa 3 ; 1 , K =
3 sin2

The three complex roots of this polynomial can be obtained analytically, but their
expressions are long and wont be written here. Using the analytical solutions also
raises the problem of choice between the three real/complex roots. On modern com-
puter solving this equation numerically is not a problem.
Speras correction Speras correction consists in using a straight line that would be
tangent to the momentum theory thrust parabola at the critical point ac . The slope of
this line is thus:

 = 4F(1 2ac ) (10.34)
da a=ac
194 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

Using Ct as a parameter, the maximum thrust value at a = 1, the equation of the line
tangent to the parabola at ac is:

Ct,linear = Ct1 4F(1 2ac )(1 a) (10.35)

For a given value of Ct1 , the intersection point ac is found as:

1 Ct1
ac = 1 (10.36)
2 F

So eventually the tangent equation is:

Ct,linear = Ct1 4F 1 (1 a) (10.37)

Speras correction uses the tangents equation after the point ac :

4a F (1 a) C
for a 1 21 Ft1
Ct =   (10.38)

Ct1 4F Ct C
1 (1 a) for a > 1 21 Ft1

The above formulation used Ct1 as a parameter, but it is also possible to use ac as a
parameter which would lead to the following equivalent formulation:

4a F (1 a) for a ac i.e. f S = 1
Ct = 4a F (1 f S a) =    
4F ac2 + (1 2ac )a for a > ac i.e. f S = aac 2 aac

The value used by Spera was ac = 0.2, but different values are found in the literature.
Using Eq. 10.36, the correspondence between Ct1 and ac is given in Table 10.1 for
some typical values. For a > ac , Eq. 10.39 is inverted using the local thrust coefficient
from the STT (Eq. 9.77):

Table 10.1 Different values of ac used by different authors in the literature and corresponding
values of Ct1
ac C t1 Reference
0.2 2.56 Wilson and Walker 1984, Spera 1994 [13]
0.29 2 Glauerts corrections
0.33 1.816 Fit to Glauerts experiment [21]
0.37 1.6 Wilson et Lissaman 1974 [29]
0.46 1.17 Flat disc, Hoerner 1965
10.2 Common Corrections to the Steady BEM Method 195

1 4F sin2
a= 2 + K (1 2ac ) (K (1 2ac ) + 2) + 4(K ac 1) , K =
2 2
2 cn

Glauerts empirical correction Another empirical correction attributed to Glauert

is reported by Hibbs and Radkey [14] or Manwell et al. [21] as:

a F (1 a) for a 0.4
Ct = (a F0.143)2 0.0203+0.64270.889
= 0.96 + F(a0.4)[F(a+0.4)0.286]
for a > 0.4

Expression which is inverted for a > 0.4 as:

a= 0.143 + 0.0203 0.6427 (0.889 Ct ) (10.41)
Polynomial relation A simple a Ct relationship can be devised using a third order
polynomial. This is the approach used for instance by Madsen et al. in the aeroelastic
code hawc2 [16, 19]:

k0 + k1 Ct + k2 Ct2 + k3 Ct3 for Ct < C
(k1 + 2Ck2 + 3Ck3 )(Ct C) + k0 + 2.5k1 C + k2 C + k3 C otherwise
2 2 3


The constant C is chosen as C = 2.5 and in practice the case Ct > C does not
need to be implemented. It is simply a linear tangent to the function based on the
value at Ct = C. The other constants are determined so as to fit the STT formula
from Eq. 9.77 for loadings below Ct 0.7. For high loadings, AD simulations and
the empirical relation of Glauert have been used to fit the coefficients. A smooth
transition is ensured between low and high loading. The coefficients are found as

k3 = 0.089207, k2 = 0.054496, k1 = 0.251163, k0 = 0.001701 0


Comparison of the different corrections The different corrections are plotted on

Fig. 10.3.

10.2.3 Wake Rotation

In this section the notation a is used in place of a B and Ct is used in place of Ct,BT to
shorten notations. The wake rotation induces a pressure drop which is not accounted
for by the stream-tube theory. This effect is discussed in more details in Sect. 19.1.
196 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

Fig. 10.3 Power and Thrust 2.5

coefficients for different Ct Glauert
high-loading correction C Glauert empirical
2 t
Ct Spera (ac=0.3)
C Madsen

Ct, C []
1.5 t



0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
a []

Several corrections are possible for the BEM algorithm. The two corrections pre-
sented here require that the BEM algorithm loops first on the number of iterations and
then on the number of radial positions. Further, the loop on the radial position should
start from the tip and go towards the root. This order allows the computation of the
thrust due to wake rotation Ct,rot . The vortex cylinder model [6] and the model of
Madsen et al. [19] are presented below. The investigation of these models shows that
the vortex cylinder model compares better to actuator disk simulations (see Chap. 19
and [6]).
Model from vortex cylinder theory Based on the superposition of cylindrical vortex
wake model presented in Chap. 18 a modification of the BEM model to account for
the pressure drop due to wake rotation is given in Chap. 19. The key results of this
chapter relevant for the implementation in the BEM algorithm are repeated below.
They are published in an article by the author [4]. The circulation determined at step
5 is used to compute the dimensionless coefficients k and a  as follows:

 (r )  k(r )
k(r ) = , aVCT (r ) = (10.44)
U02 4r2

The different local thrust coefficients are then determined as follows


Ct,rot (r ) = 8 [r aVCT (r )]2 , Ct,KJ = k(r ) 1 + aVCT (r ) , Ct,eff = Ct,KJ (r ) Ct,rot (r )
r r

Using a high-thrust correction inspired by the work of Spera (see Sect. 10.2.2), the
axial induction is obtained from the effective thrust coefficient as:

Ct,eff (r ) 4ac2
if Ct,eff < 4ac (1 ac ), aVCT (r ) = (10.45)
4(1 2ac )
1 1
otherwise, aVCT (r ) = 1 Ct,eff (r )
2 2
10.2 Common Corrections to the Steady BEM Method 197

Equation 10.45 is then used instead of Eq. 10.16 in the BEM algorithm.
Model of Madsen et al. [19] derived the following formulation to account for the
influence of the pressure variation from wake rotation:

Cq (r )
a0 (r )k1 Ct (r ) + k2 Ct (r )2 + k3 Ct (r )3 , a0 (r ) = (10.46)
4 [1 a(r )] r

Ct,rot (r ) = 8 [r a0 (r )]2 (10.47)
r r

 Cq (r )
aMa (r ) = a0 (r ) 0.7Ct,rot (r )/2, aMa (r ) = (10.48)
4 [1 a(r )] r

where the coefficients ki are defined in Eq. 10.43. Equation 10.48 is then used instead
of Eq. 10.16 in the BEM algorithm.

10.3 Unsteady BEM Method

10.3.1 Introduction

Many factors render the real flow about a wind turbine unsteady: e.g. variations in the
incoming wind (shear, veer, turbulence), unsteady flow disturbances (due to yaw/tilt,
tower influence, wake evolution) and motions and vibrations of the structure. An
unsteady BEM algorithm is thus needed to compute realistic loads on the turbine.
Standard corrections to obtain an unsteady BEM algorithm include: a dynamic inflow
model, a dynamic stall model, a yaw-model and a tower-interference model. These
different corrections are described in the following paragraphs. The unsteady BEM
algorithm is summarized in Sect. 10.3.6. Most of the treatment of this section is based
on the algorithm presented by Hansen [13].

10.3.2 Dynamic Wake/Inflow

Introduction A change in the rotor loading will result in a change in the wake
configuration and the induced velocities. For a change between two loading config-
urations, it will take time for the wake to go from one equilibrium state to another.
This phenomenon is referred to as the dynamic wake or dynamic inflow. Using a
vorticity formulation, the change of loading will imply a change of vorticity emitted
into the wake. The new value of the vorticity propagates progressively downstream
198 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

replacing the old values and hence the induced velocity from this vorticity changes
progressively. The time scales involved in the dynamic wake are thus related to the
convection velocity of the vorticity in the wake. Due to the difference in convection
velocity in the wake it is expected that the time delay towards the tip is shorter than
towards the root [26].
Unsteady vortex codes inherently account for the dynamic inflow. On the other
hand, the baseline BEM algorithm is steady and hence assumes that the wake is
in equilibrium. Engineering models have been devised to account for the unsteady
changes between two equilibrium values [26]. In a fully unsteady simulation, the
baseline BEM equations provide the quasi-static inductions, which correspond to
the induced velocities that would be obtained if the instantaneous flow at the rotor
remained in this configuration. The dynamic inflow models usually introduce an
exponential decay (from a first order differential equation) which acts as a filter
between the current flow configuration and the quasi-static values.
Dynamic model of ye The dynamic model of ye is presented in the review of
Snel and Schepers [26] and the book of Hansen [13]. The model is written using two
first order differential equations:

dW qs dW int dW
W qs + 0.61 = W int + 1 , W int = W + 2 (10.49)
dt dt dt
where W is the actual induction at the rotor (at a given blade position and radial
position), W qs is the quasi-steady induction and W int is an intermediate value coupling
the quasi-steady and the actual inductions. A steady solution of Eq. 10.49 implies
W = W qs . Within an unsteady BEM step, once the values of a and a  are computed,
the quasi-steady induction vector is determined as W qs = aU0 e z ra  e while
the time constants are modelled as:
1.1 R r2
1 = , 2 = 0.39 0.26 2 1 (10.50)
1 1.3 min(a, 0.5) U0 R

The numerical resolution of Eq. 10.49 is presented as follows by Hansen. The term
involving Wqs is evaluated using backward differences: H = Wqs i
+ 0.61 (W iqs
W qs )/t where the upper script i 1 and i represent two successive times separated

by t. The resolutions of the two differential equations leads to:

t t
W iint = H + (W i1
int H )e
1 , W i = W iint + (W i1 W iint )e 2 (10.51)

An example of application of this dynamic inflow model is shown in Fig. 26.2 for
the response of a turbine to a pitch step. The example is identical to the one used by
Hansen [13]. An Matlab implementation of the model is given Sect. 10.4.2.
ECN differential model Snel and Schepers suggested the following differential
equation for the axial induction factor based on results from the cylindrical vortex
wake model [26]:
10.3 Unsteady BEM Method 199

4R da
f a (r/R) + 4a(1 a) = Ct (10.52)
U0 dt

where f a is an integral function responsible for the time delay in induction. It is seen
that the STT relation is obtained for a steady case. A similar equation is suggested
by the authors for the tangential induction factor.
Vortex cylinder model to tune dynamic inflow models An unsteady application of
the vortex cylinder model is presented in Chap. 26. The model is seen to reproduce
measurements and results from a BEM code with a dynamic inflow model. The
vortex cylinder model presented may be used to tune dynamic inflow models.

10.3.3 Yaw and Tilt Model

The BEM algorithm was derived for a case where the rotor is perpendicular with the
free-stream. The aerodynamics of a yawed and tilted rotors are discussed in Sect. 6.1.
The notations adopted in this section follow the ones presented in Sect. 6.1. Several
models have been devised to correct for the case of a yawed and/or tilted rotor. The
wake skew angle may be determined using empirical relations, such as the one given
in Eq. 6.1, or using the definition based on an average induction W 0 at the rotor, as
given in Eq. 6.2. In the implementation presented by Hansen [13], the average rotor
induction is estimated based on the induction on the blades (determined without
yaw-model) at a radial position r/R 0.7.
Glauert model The yawed configuration of a wind turbine is similar to the case
of a helicopter in forward-flight so that wind turbine aerodynamics benefit from
the extensive study of the latter case. Glauerts study of the autogyro concept in
1926 [11] is among the earliest investigations. Glauert used a lifting line analysis
where the rotor is assumed highly yawed and is modelled as a circular wing. The
wing is flat, hence untwisted and with constant profiles along the span. The loading
of the circular wing is thus elliptical which in turn implies that the induced velocity
is constant along the span under lifting-line assumptions (see Sect. 3.6.4). Glauert
further assumes that the induced velocity is constant along the wing chord. This
lifting-line analysis allows to link the mean induced velocity over the rotor to the
rotor loading. Yet, the normal velocity should also vary with azimuth so Glauert
assumes this variation to be proportional to the distance behind the center of the
rotor. Glauert yaw-model assumes that the induced velocity normal to the rotor, u z ,
is decomposed into a constant component and a component that varies linearly with
the radius and sinusoidally with the azimuth angle:
u z = u z,0 1 + 2Ft (r, ) tan cos( 0 ) (10.53)
200 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

where u z,0 = aU0 is the induction value in the non-yawed case (or, in this case,
the azimuthal average of u z ), is the azimuthal position of the rotor where 0 is
a reference position (usually 0 or /2) such that 0 = 0 at the downwind
part of the rotor. The function Ft is referred to as the flow expansion function, and
is Ft (r, ) = 2R
in Glauert model. The form of Eq. 10.53 can be regarded as the
zeroth and first sinusoidal component of a Fourier decomposition, the amplitude of
the zeroth component being u z,0 .
Equivalence to the cylindrical vortex wake model In 1945, Coleman et al. [8]
used a skewed cylindrical wake to study yawed rotors. They restricted their study to
the component of vorticity tangential to the rotor. The analysis of Coleman et al. is
presented in Chap. 21 where it is also extended to include all vorticity components.
The results show that the axial induced velocity takes the form of Eq. 10.53 with
K z,t (r, ) r r3
Ft (r, ) = = +o (10.54)
2 tan 2 2R R3

where K z,t is defined in Eq. 38.8. The approximation of the expression of Ft obtained
by Coleman is seen to be identical to the result obtained by Glauert. The yaw-model
of Glauert may hence be seen as an approximation of the results from the cylindrical
vortex model. ye suggested the following fit to the function Ft [24]:

Ft (r ) r + 0.4r 3 + 0.4r 5 (10.55)

where r = r
Advanced yaw-model from vortex theory The cylindrical vortex wake model of
Coleman et al. is extended in this book to include more components of vorticity and
derive a yaw-model that modifies both the axial and tangential velocity. The model is
based on the derivations presented in Chap. 21. A simple implementation is presented
in Chap. 22 and a more complex implementation is given in Chap. 23.
Further developments of yaw-models Further refinements of the model may be
obtained by adding higher harmonics of sine and cosine terms to Eq. 10.53. The deter-
mination of the Fourier components may be done by various methods, for instance:
experimentally [25] or using vortex analyses similar to the one of Coleman [8].

10.3.4 Dynamic Stall

The dynamic response of an airfoil to changes in angle of attack is referred to as

dynamic stall. Dynamic stall models are discussed in Sect. 3.2.3.
10.3 Unsteady BEM Method 201

10.3.5 Tower and Nacelle Interference

Introduction The influence of the tower and nacelle on the flow can be obtained
by using a distribution of source on the surface of the bodies in order to ensure the
no-flow through condition. Such techniques are common to the Boundary Element
Methods as presented in the book of Katz and Plotkin [15]. This method was used
e.g. in Sect. 27.3 and [5] to study the influence of the nacelle on the wake deficits.
The method is yet computational intensive and simplifications may be introduced by
assuming a prescribed source distribution.
Tower shadow The influence of the wind turbine tower, referred to as tower shadow,
can be obtained by assuming that at each height the flow about the tower is altered
as in a 2D potential flow about a cylinder. This approach is followed e.g. in the book
of Hansen [13]. The velocity about a 2D cylinder is given in Sect. 32.4.1. Noting U0
the free stream velocity, P = (x, y, z) the location of a blade section expressed in
the ground coordinate system (x1 , y1 , z 1 ) (see Figs. 10.2 and 10.4) and noting a(x)
the tower radius at the height x, then the velocity at point P is computed in polar
and Cartesian coordinates as
V0,r = U0 1 cos V0,y = V0,r sin V0, cos (10.56)
V0, = U0 1 + sin V0,z = V0,r cos V0, sin (10.57)

with cos = z/r , sin = y/r and r = z 2 + y 2 . In the BEM implementation, the
tower effect is included in the free-flow, i.e. V free-flow according to Eq. 4.1. Results
from the model are illustrated in Fig. 10.4 where a cross section at three different
times is represented. The longitudinal velocity V0,z will likely be higher than U0 at
t1 and t3 due to the speed up effect observed as the flow goes around the tower, but

Fig. 10.4 Flow about a

tower cross section modelled
using the 2D potential flow
about a cylinder. The blade
passing in front of the tower
perceives a velocity different
than the free-stream U0 . The
Nacelle is represented with a
dashed contour
202 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

the flow will be lower than U0 at t2 due to the blockage effect. The velocity along y
changes sign as the blade rotates.
Since the tower perturbs the flow perceived by each blade as it passes, the mod-
elling of this interference is essential to capture the aeroelastic behavior of a wind
turbine. The tower excitation for a rotor of B blades is then at a frequency of Bp
(e.g. 3 p), where p is the rotational frequency of the rotor. As noted by Hansen, the
potential model is not well suited for a downwind turbine since the flow will not
remain attached downstream of the tower and the blade hence operates in the wake
of the tower.
Nacelle influence The influence of the nacelle may be obtained using the analyti-
cal induction from a spherical or ellipsoidal body (see Chap. 34). An even simpler
solution consists in using a single point source. This approach is followed e.g. by
Wald [28]. The influence of the nacelle is likely to be limited on the total performance
of the rotor since it affects the flow near the inner part of the rotor, a part which does
not contribute significantly to the power. The effect may yet be included for better
modelling accuracy. The drag contribution of the nacelle contributes slightly to the
tower top loads and will affect the near wake behind the turbine. The influence of
the nacelle on the wake deficits is discussed in Sect. 27.3 and [5].

10.3.6 Summary of the Unsteady BEM Algorithm

The iteration loop present in a steady BEM code is neglected in an unsteady BEM
code since the different correction models include a time-filtering and thus the iter-
ation and relaxation are replaced by a time evolution, assuming that the time step
chosen is sufficiently small compared to the characteristic aerodynamic time-scales.
Another difference with the steady BEM code is that the induction and loads should
be computed for each blade. These values needs to be stored in order to perform time
integrations. Different coordinate system need to be defined to be able to identity
the kinematics of a blade elements and the relative wind speed at this location. The
coordinate system adopted is given in Sect. 4.2 which is identical to the notations of
Hansen [13, p. 85]. The coordinate system labelled 3 refers to the one attached to
the wind turbine shaft and the coordinate system 4 is attached to one of the blade.
The unsteady BEM algorithm is summarized below using the same numbering con-
vention as Sect. 10.1.5. The algorithm is initialized by setting up the positions and
velocities of all the structural nodes (blade control points and possibly other compo-
nents if a full aeroelastic-model is considered). A default skew angle is determined
from the yaw angle. The induced velocities W , W qs , W int for each blade and each
radial position are initialized to a default value. For each time step, each blade, and
each radial position, the core of the algorithm consists of the following steps (see the
book of Hansen [9, p.98]):
10.3 Unsteady BEM Method 203

0. Project the undisturbed wind V 0 into the blade cross section plane, i.e. system
4 (including tower-effect, turbulence, wind shear, wind veer).
Project in this system the relative wind V rel consisting of the undisturbed wind
V 0 , the blade section velocity V elast (including possible elastic vibrations) and
the induction velocity W (from the previous time step).
1. Compute the normal and tangential velocities Un , Ut and the Reynolds number
(all directly obtained from the component of V rel ).
2. Compute the flow angle = atan(Un /Ut )
Compute the tip-loss factor F from Eq. 10.7.
3. Compute the angle of attack = (twist + pitch).
4. Calculate Cl () and Cd () from the airfoil data.
Apply dynamic stall model (see Sect. 10.3.4).
5. Compute cn , ct , Ct , Cq as for the steady BEM.
Compute the axial induction, by transforming W and V 0 into system 3 and pro-
jecting along the thrust (i.e. shaft) direction n = e z .
6. Compute the quasi-steady values of a B and a B as for the steady-BEM, including
high-thrust correction and wake rotation correction.
7. Apply the dynamic wake model according to Sect. 10.3.2 to obtain W .
8. Apply the yaw-model according to Sect. 10.3.3. The skew angle is determined
based on the average induced velocity W 0 at a radial position around 0.7R using
Eq. 6.2.

10.4 Typical Applications and Source Code

10.4.1 Examples of Applications

Some examples of applications of steady and unsteady BEM simulations are briefly
presented in this section. The code used to produce these results is based on the
development of this chapter. Element of the source code are found in Sect. 10.4.2.
Steady BEM A steady BEM code may be used to determine the performance of a
wind turbine and design its different operational regimes. A variable speed, pitch
regulated wind turbine is assumed here. A fictitious model based on the Nordtank
500kW turbine is used. The following parameters are assumed known: the wind
turbine geometry and airfoil characteristics, the minimum and maximum rotational
speed min and max of the rotor, and the maximum power Prated . The range of
rotational speed is determined by the gear box and generator used. The maximum
rotational speed may be limited by noise constraints since the aerodynamic noise is
generally a function of the wind turbine tip speed R. The BEM code is run for
different values of tip-speed ratio and pitch . The power coefficient C P from this
parametric study is shown in the left of Fig. 10.5. The tip-speed ratio opt and the
pitch angle opt that give the maximum power coefficient C P,opt , are used to scale
the plot axes. The objective is then to find the operational conditions that optimize
204 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

CP R0 R1 R2 R3
| []
Region 0
Region 1

Region 2 0.8 P

Pitch: /|

Region 3

0.4 T
0 0.2

0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 0.5 1 1.5 2

/opt [] WS/Vrated []

CP R1 R2 R3
10 1
Region 1
| []

Region 2
Region 3 0.8 P

Pitch: /|

5 0.6 P

0.4 T
0 0.2

0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 1.4 1.6 1.8 0.5 1 1.5 2

/ [] WS/V []
opt rated

Fig. 10.5 Operational regimes of a variables-speed, pitch-regulated wind turbine. Left Iso-contours
of C P and operational regions. Right Main rotor parameters scaled by the rated, maximum or optimal
values. Top Case where a minimum rotor speed is required, and where the pitch is used to maximize
C P in R1, R2, R3. Bottom Case where no minimum rotational speed is present and where the pitch
is kept at opt before rated wind speed. The rated wind-speed is slightly lower in the top figure due
to the C P optimization in R3. The strategy of the top-figure is more intensive on the pitch actuator

the power production below the rated power and limit the power and the loads for
high wind speeds. Different strategies may be adopted. The top and bottom part of
Fig. 10.5 represent two different cases and strategies for a same turbine. The different
operational regimes, or regions, seen on the figure are defined below.
For a given wind-speed and if the pitch is at its optimum value opt , it is possible
to adapt the rotational speed of the rotor to reach the optimal power extraction point
C P,opt . This is nevertheless limited to a regime of low wind speeds where the power
and rotor speed are below their rated values. This region of optimal C P tracking is
referred to as region 1, or variable-speed region. In this region, the pitch angle is
kept at its optimum value while the generator torque is used to obtain the optimal
tip-speed ratio. If the turbine has a minimum rotational speed, it is possible that a
region 0 exists where the rotor operates below optimal conditions. A maximum C P
value for a given rotational speed can still be obtained in this region by pitching the
blades. As the wind speed and rotational speed increases, the maximum rotational
speed max is reached. Above this wind speed, the rotational speed will remain
constant equal to max . This marks the beginning of region 2, or constant speed
region where the rotor speed is regulated. The generator torque is used to regulate the
10.4 Typical Applications and Source Code 205


1 0.4 1 0.8

/max []
Ct []

0.6 0.3

a []
0.5 0.5
0.2 0.4
0 0 0 0.2
0 0.2 0 0.1 0
1 1 WS 1
WS 1 WS 1 1
/V 2 0.5 /V 2 0.5
/V 2 0.5 0
rat 3 0 rat 3 0 rat 3 0
ed [] r/R [] ed [] r/R [] ed [] r/R []

Fig. 10.6 Radial distributions of Ct (left), a (middle) and /max for different wind speeds

rotor speed and maintain it at its rated value. In this region it is no longer possible to
maintain C P,opt . The pitch angle may be kept at its optimal value, but it is also possible
to optimize C P for each value of the wind speed. As the wind speed increases, the
power increases to reach the rated values Prated . The wind speed at which this occurs
is referred to as the rated wind speed. This value marks the beginning of region
3 or main pitching region where both the rotor speed and power and regulated.
The power regulation in this region is achieved using the generator torque while the
blade pitch is used to regulate the rotor speed. A fourth region is present in some of
the modern turbines. Instead of shutting down the turbine above the typical cut-out
wind speed of 25 m/s, the wind turbine is kept in operation but with lower power in
order to reduce the loads. In this fourth region, the wind turbine blades are pitched
more intensively such that the power drops progressively for higher and higher wind
The radial distribution of the local thrust coefficient Ct , axial induction factor a
and circulation /max is shown in Fig. 10.6 for different wind-speeds, and for the
control strategy used in the top of Fig. 10.5.
Unsteady BEM The implementation of the unsteady BEM code is illustrated by
showing two test-cases. In the first one, the turbine is subjected to a pitch step. The
same turbine and simulation setup than Hansen is used [13]. This test-case validates
the implementation of the dynamic wake model. Results are shown in Fig. 10.7. The
response of the turbine torque to a change of pitch, i.e. dQ/d is a key-parameter
for the tuning of the gain scheduling of the controller in region 3. This aerodynamic
gradient dQ/d needs to be computed for the different operating wind-speed in order
to adapt the feedback gains of the controller.
The second test-case considered is an aeroelastic simulation where a shutdown
of a wind turbine is reproduced. The elastic model uses a modal formulation similar
to the one presented by Hansen [13] and ye [23]. The model consists here of 12
degrees of freedom: 3 per blade, one for the shaft rotation, one for the shaft torsion,
and one for the tower top-displacement. A simple controller was implemented for this
analysis. The pitch follows an increasing ramp at t = 10s resulting in a shutdown of
the turbine. A synthetic turbulence field was generated and used for the simulation [2,
20]. Results are shown in Fig. 10.8.
206 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

Pitch [deg]
Unsteady BEM 2
Torque [kNm]

300 0
0 10 20 30 40 50 60

Torque [kNm]

100 100
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 0 10 20 30 40 50 60
Time [s] Time [s]

Fig. 10.7 Response of a wind turbine to a pitch step. The test-case is identical to the one presented
by Hansen [13]. The results were obtained using the code presented in this chapter and given in
Sect. 10.4.2
Hub speed [m/s]

Fig. 10.8 Aeroelastic

response of a wind turbine
under a shut-down case
0 5 10 15 20
t [s]
Power [kW]

0 5 10 15 20
t [s]
Pitch [deg]

0 5 10 15 20
t [s]
Flap [kNm]

0 5 10 15 20
t [s]

10.4.2 Source Code for Steady and Unsteady BEM Methods

Steady BEM code A simple Matlab implementation of a steady BEM code is given
below. It is recommended to use a similar structure of the code and separate the
determination of the tip-loss factor, aerodynamic coefficients, and induction coeffi-
cients into different functions. Different models can easily be implemented in these
10.4 Typical Applications and Source Code 207

f u n c t i o n [ RES ] = f B E M s t e a d y ( WT , Sim , Wind , Algo )

% f B E M s t e a d y : s t e a d y BEM code i m p l e m e n t a t i o n
% Author : E. Branlard
% --- Necessary parameters
% E n v i r o n m e n t and o p e r a t i n g c o n d i t i o n s
V0 = Wind . V0 ; % I n c o m i n g Wind [ m / s ]
rho = Sim . rho ; % Air d e n s i t y [ kg / m ^3]
K i n V i s c = Sim . K i n V i s c ; % K i n e m a t i c v i s c o s i t y [ m ^2/ s ] ( for
Reynolds number )
pitch = Sim . PITCH ; % Pitch angle [ rad ]
Omega = Sim . RPM *2* pi /60 ; % R o t a t i o n a l v e l o c i t y [ rad / s ]
% Rotor g e o m e t r y
nB = WT . Rotor . nB ; % N u m b e r of b l a d e s
R = WT . Rotor . R ; % Rotor radius [ m ]
r = WT . Rotor . r ; % R a d i a l p o s i t i o n s [ m ] (1 x ne )
chord = WT . Rotor . chord ; % Chord [ m ] (1 x ne )
twist = WT . Rotor . twist ; % Twist [ rad ] (1 x ne )
% Algorithm options
nbIt = Algo . nbIt ; % M a x i m u m n u m b e r of i t e r a t i o n s
aTol = Algo . aTol ; % T o l e r a n c e in axial i n d u c t i o n
b T i p L o s s = Algo . BEM . b T i p L o s s ; % True if tip - losses are a p p l i e d
% --- Derived parameters
l a m b d a _ r = Omega * r / V0 ; % Local tip - speed ratio
sigma = chord * nB ./(2* pi * r ) ; % S o l i d i t y
% -- I n i t i a l i z e r e s u l t v a r i a b l e
RES . Pn = zeros (1 , l e n g t h ( r ) ) ; % n o r m a l f o r c e per l e n g t h
RES . Pt = zeros (1 , l e n g t h ( r ) ) ; % t a n g e n t i a l force per length
% - - - Loop on blade e l e m e n t s
for e =1: l e n g t h ( r )
% - - - Step 0: i n i t i a l guess
a = 0.3*0 ;
aprime = 0.01*0;
% - - - I t e r a t i o n loop
for i =1: nbIt
% - - - Step 1: Wind C o m p o n e n t s
Ut = Omega * r ( e ) * ( 1 + a p r i m e ) ;
Un = V0 *(1 - a ) ;
V r e l _ n o r m = sqrt ( Un .^2+ Ut .^2) ;
Re = Vrel_norm * chord (e)/ KinVisc ; % Reynolds number
% - - - Step 2: Flow Angle
phi = atan2 ( Un , Ut ) ; % [ rad ]
if ( imag ( phi ) ~=0) ; f p r i n t f ( A l g o r i t h m f a i l e d : r =%.2 f \ n ,r ( e ) ) ;
break ; end ;
% - - - Tip loss
F = f T i p L o s s ( nB ,r , R , phi , b T i p L o s s ) ;
% --- Step 3: Angle of attack
alpha = phi -( twist ( e ) + pitch ) ; % [ rad ]
% --- Step 4: A i r f o i l c o e f f i c i e n t s ( and d y n a m i c stall )
[ Cl , Cd ] = f A e r o C o e f f ( alpha , Re ) ;
% - - - Step 5: airfoil , load coeff and c i r c u l a t i o n
% N o r m a l and t a n g e n t i a l c o e f f i c i e n t s
cn = Cl .* cos ( phi ) + Cd .* sin ( phi ) ; % c n N o D r a g = Cl .* cos ( phi ) ;
ct = Cl .* sin ( phi ) - Cd .* cos ( phi ) ; % c t N o D r a g = Cl .* sin ( phi ) ;
% Local thrust and torque from BET
Ct = V r e l _ n o r m ^2/ V0 ^2* sigma ( e ) * cn ;
Cq = V r e l _ n o r m ^2/ V0 ^2* sigma ( e ) * ct ;
% C i r c u l a t i o n for one blade
G a m m a _ B = 0 . 5 * V r e l _ n o r m * chord ( e ) * Cl ;
% - - - Step 6: I n d u c t i o n C o e f f i c i e n t s
% S t o r i n g last values
a_last = a ;
aprime_last = aprime ;
[ a , a p r i m e ] = f I n d u c t i o n C o e f f i c i e n t s ( a_last , Ct , Cq ,F , l a m b d a _ r ( e )
% --- Convergence Criteria
if (i >3 && abs ( a - a _ l a s t ) + abs ( aprime - a p r i m e _ l a s t ) < aTol ) ; break ;
208 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

end % i t e r a t i v e loop for one e l e m e n t

if ( i == nbIt ) ; f p r i n t f ( M a x i m u m i t e r a t i o n s r e a c h e d at r =%.2 f \ n , r (
e ) ) ; end ;
% - - - Step 8: A e r o d y n a m i c F o r c e s per l e n g t h ( WITH DRAG )
RES . Pn ( e ) = 0.5* rho * V r e l _ n o r m .^2* chord ( e ) .* cn ;
RES . Pt ( e ) = 0.5* rho * V r e l _ n o r m .^2* chord ( e ) .* ct ;
end % loop on blade e l e m e n t s
RES . T h r u s t = nB * trapz ( r , RES . Pn ) ;
RES . Power = nB * trapz (r , r .* RES . Pt ) * Omega ; % NOTE : Trapz not
optimal !
RES . CP = RES . P o w e r / ( 0 . 5 * rho * V0 ^3* pi * R ^2) ;
RES . CT = RES . T h r u s t / ( 0 . 5 * rho * V0 ^2* pi * R ^2) ;
f u n c t i o n [ F ]= f T i p L o s s ( nB , r ,R , phi , bTipLoss , v a r a r g i n )
% - C o m p u t e tip - loss factor
% NOTE : Many i m p l e m e n t a t i o n s p o s s i b l e ! M i n i m a l i s t i c e x a m p l e :
F =1;
if b T i p L o s s & sin ( phi ) >0.01;
F =2/ pi * acos ( exp ( - nB /2*( R - r ( e ) ) /( r ( e ) * sin ( phi ) ) ) ) ;
f u n c t i o n [ Cl , Cd ] = f A e r o C o e f f ( alpha , Re , v a r a r g i n ) ;
% - I n t e r p o l a t i o n of p o l a r s for a given alpha and R e y n o l d s n u m b e r
% - Dynamic stall implementation
% NOTE : Many i m p l e m e n t a t i o n s p o s s i b l e ! M i n i m a l i s t i c e x a m p l e (
inviscid theory ):
Cl = 2* pi * sin ( alpha ) ;
Cd = 0 ;
f u n c t i o n [ a , a p r i m e ] = f I n d u c t i o n C o e f f i c i e n t s ( a_last , Ct , Cq , F ,
lambda_r , v a r a r g i n ) ;
% - C o m p u t e a , a p r i m e and the l o c a l t h r u s t c o e f f i c i e n t Ct
% - P e r f o r m High - t h r u s t c o r r e c t i o n ( e . g . a - Ct r e l a t i o n )
% - P e r f o r m r e l a x a t i o n on axial i n d u c t i o n ( only if steady
simulation )
% - P e r f o r m wake - r o t a t i o n c o r r e c t i o n
% NOTE : Many i m p l e m e n t a t i o n s p o s s i b l e ! M i n i m a l i s t i c e x a m p l e :
[a , Ct ] = f C o r r e c t i o n H i g h T h r u s t ( Ct , F , v a r a r g i n ) ; % a - Ct r e l a t i o n
a = 0.3* a + (1 -0.3) * a _ l a s t ; % Relaxation
a p r i m e = Cq / (4* F *(1 - a ) * l a m b d a _ r ) ; % tangential
f u n c t i o n [ a , Ct ] = f C o r r e c t i o n H i g h T h r u s t ( Ct ,F , v a r a r g i n )
% - R e t u r n s a and Ct a p p l y i n g the High - T h r u s t c o r r e c t i o n
% NOTE : Many i m p l e m e n t a t i o n s p o s s i b l e ! M i n i m a l i s t i c e x a m p l e :
k = [0.00 ,0.251163 ,0.0544955 ,0.0892074];
Ctb = Ct ./ F ;
a = k (4) * Ctb .^3+ k (3) * Ctb .^2+ k (2) * Ctb + k (1) ;

Unsteady BEM code An unsteady BEM code implementation is given below. A

sample of the code is given. The notations are similar to the ones of the steady BEM
code provided above. The code is not standalone since it would require too much
space. The yaw and dynamic inflow models are yet given in details.
f u n c t i o n [ RES WT ]= fBEM ( x , v , bUpdate , WT , Sim , Wind , Algo )
% fBEM : u n s t e a d y BEM code i m p l e m e n t a t i o n
% Author : E. Branlard
% x and v speed and p o s i t i o n s of d e g r e e s of f r e e d o m ( DOF )
[ code r e m o v e d ]
[ a12 a23 a34 ]= g e t T r a n s f o M a t r i c e s ( yaw , tilt ,0 , Rotor . cone ) ;
% %% Loop on blades
for idB =1: nB
psi = Vpsi ( idB ) ; % a z i m u t a l p o s i t i o n of the blade
% Transformation matrix
10.4 Typical Applications and Source Code 209

a23 =[ cos ( psi ) sin ( psi ) 0; - sin ( psi ) cos ( psi ) 0; 0 0 1];
[ code rem o v e d ]
% loop on e l e m e n t s
for e =1: ne
% - - - Step 0: R e l a t i v e wind
% Cross sec t i o n p o s i t i o n
r b _ i n 4 =[ r ( e ) ; 0; 0];
r b _ i n 1 = a41 * r b _ i n 4 ;
% I n c o m i n g wind ( i n c l u d i n g tower effect , turbulence ,
V 0 _ i n 1 = g e t I n c o m i n g W i n d ( rb_in1 , WT , Wind , Algo ) ;
V 0 _ i n 4 = a14 * V 0 _ i n 1 ;
V 0 _ i n 3 = a13 * V 0 _ i n 1 ;
V 0 _ i n 4 =[0 ; V 0 _ i n 4 (2) ; V 0 _ i n 4 (3) ]; % no x comp
V 0 _ i n 3 =[0 ; V 0 _ i n 3 (2) ; V 0 _ i n 3 (3) ];
% V e l o c i t y seen by the blade due to e l a s t i c i t y and r o t a t i o n
Vb_in4 =[0; - omega * r ( e ) * cos ( Rotor . cone ) ; 0]; % blade speed
V e l a s t _ i n 4 = a14 * [ 0 ; 0 ; 0* - v (1) ]; % n a c e l l e d i s p l a c e m e n t only
% R e l a t i v e speed speed ( Change me if more DOF )
V r e l _ i n 4 = V 0 _ i n 4 + WT . Aero . last . W (: , e , idB ) + V b _ i n 4 + V e l a s t _ i n 4 ;
l a m b d a _ r = omega * r ( e ) * cos ( cone ) / norm ( V 0 _ i n 3 ) ;
% --- Step 1 to 5 [ s i m i l a r to s t e a d y BEM code ]
% - - - P r o j e c t a x i a l i n d u c t i o n to get a
W n _ i n 4 =[0 ; 0 ; WT . Aero . last . W (3 , e , idB ) ];
W n _ i n 3 = a34 * W n _ i n 4 ;
n n W _ i n 3 = n _ t h r u s t _ i n 3 .*( n _ t h r u s t _ i n 3 .* W n _ i n 3 ) ;
V_prime_induction_in3 = V0_in3 + nnW_in3 ;
sign =1; if ( V _ p r i m e _ i n d u c t i o n _ i n 3 (3) <0) ; sign = -1; end
a =( norm ( V 0 _ i n 3 ) - sign * norm ( V _ p r i m e _ i n d u c t i o n _ i n 3 ) ) / norm ( V 0 _ i n 3 )
% - - - Step 6: I n d u c t i o n C o e f f i c i e n t s from BEM
[ a , a p r i m e ] = f I n d u c t i o n C o e f f i c i e n t s (a , Ct , Cq , F , l a m b d a _ r ( e ) ) ;
% --- Step 7: D y n a m i c wake model
W_y_qs = - omega *r(e)* aprime ;
W _ z _ q s = - norm ( V 0 _ i n 3 ) * a ;
W_qs (: , e , idB ) =[0 ; W _ y _ q s ; W _ z _ q s ];
if ( Algo . BEM . b D y n a W a k e ) % S o l v i n g d i f f e r e n t i a l e q u a t i o n
t a u 1 = 1 . 1 / ( 1 - 1 . 3 * min (a ,0.5) ) * R / norm ( V 0 _ i n 4 ) ;
tau2 = ( 0 . 3 9 - 0 . 2 6 * ( r ( e ) / R ) ^2) * tau1 ;
H = W_qs (: , e , idB ) +0.6* tau1 *( W_qs (: , e , idB ) - WT . Aero . last . W_qs (: ,
e , idB ) ) / Algo . dt ;
W_int (: , e , idB ) = H +( WT . Aero . last . W_int (: , e , idB ) - H ) * exp ( - Algo .
dt / tau1 ) ;
W0 (: , e , idB ) = W_int (: , e , idB ) +( WT . Aero . last . W0 (: , e , idB ) - W_int
(: , e , idB ) ) * exp ( - Algo . dt / tau2 ) ;
else % Using quasi - s t e a d y v a l u e s
W0 (: , e , idB ) = W_qs (: , e , idB ) ;
% --- Step 8: Yaw model , r e p a r t i t i o n of the i n d u c e d v e l o c i t y
if ( Algo . BEM . b Y a w M o d e l )
if ( e == Rotor . e _ r e f _ f o r _ k h i && idB ==1)
% psi0 d e t e r m i n e d based on i n c o m i n g wind at hub
V 0 _ i n 1 = g e t I n c o m i n g W i n d ( r_hub_in1 , WT , Wind , Algo ) ;
V 0 _ i n 2 = a12 * V 0 _ i n 1 ;
psi0 = atan2 ( V 0 _ i n 2 (2) , V 0 _ i n 2 (1) ) * 1 8 0 / pi ;
% %% D e t e r m i n a t i o n of skew angle
m e a n W n _ i n 4 = [ 0 ; 0 ; mean ( W0 (3 , R o t o r . e _ r e f _ f o r _ k h i ,:) ) ];
m e a n W n _ i n 2 = a34 * m e a n W n _ i n 4 ;
V_prime_for_khi_in2 = V0_in2 + meanWn_in2 ;
khi = acos ( dot ( n _ r o t o r _ i n 2 , V _ p r i m e _ f o r _ k h i _ i n 2 ) / norm (
V_prime_for_khi_in2 ));
W (: , e , idB ) = W0 (: , e , idB ) *(1+ r ( e ) / R * tan ( khi /2) * cos ( Vpsi ( idB ) -
psi0 ) ) ;
W (: , e , idB ) = W0 (: , e , idB ) ;
% - - - Step 9: A e r o d y n a m i c F o r c e s
210 10 The Blade Element Momentum (BEM) Method

[ s i m i l a r to s t e a d y BEM code ]
end % loop on radial p o s i t i o n s
end % loop on blades


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