Exascale Predictive Wind Plant Flow Physics Modeling

Exascale computing for increasing efficiency and reducing the cost of wind energy

Wind turbine CFD simulation

Isosurfaces of vorticity colored by the instantaneous streamwise velocity in the wake of a wind turbine. (image courtesy of Matt Churchfield, National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

Wind is an abundant and secure energy resource and could one day supply up to 30 percent of electrical power in the United States. With today’s computational models, scientists have been able to make great improvements to individual turbine efficiency. However, to advance wind energy and harness its full potential, researchers need to understand the performance of a wind plant as a whole; and, for that, they need exascale computers.

The terrains surrounding wind plants (whether coastal, mountainous, or flat) and the interactions between the dozens to hundreds of turbines located at a plant produce complicated flow physics and wake formations that impact overall plant performance. Exascale-enabled simulations of wind plants can provide more accurate predictions of performance under a range of conditions and lead to new turbine design models, wind plant locations, and operational controls.