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Controller capabilities

In the early days, wind turbine controllers had simple sequential control tasks to perform: start up, controlled shutdown, and the monitoring of temperatures and other status indications from important components.  At the academic level, it was realised early on that more advanced control could reduce the mechanical loads on the turbine, and thereby allow mass to be reduced.  This has now been implemented to some extent in some turbine designs, principally by controlling individual blade pitch and generator torque (via the variable-speed electronic power converter).  Additional inputs, such as nacelle acceleration are required.  The control algorithm then has a complex optimisation task to perform, and the controller principles and algorithms are considered highly confidential by turbine manufacturers.

This trend is likely to continue as experience is gained.  The computation required is not great compared to control tasks in other industries. Therefore, the rate of development is likely to be set by the rate at which experience is gained with prototypes, and the rate at which models of the turbines and their environments can be developed and validated.

Further progress is expected, as means are developed to provide further reliable measurements of mechanical loads: measurement of blade loads through optical fibre strain gauges appears to be a hopeful development.

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