In-field testing of a steel wind turbine tower

Marco Molinari, Matteo Pozzi, Daniele Zonta, Lorenzo Battisti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

8 Citations (Scopus)


The strong drive to exploit wind energy has recently led to consideration of new types of location for wind turbines, including mountain regions. A major concern for wind farm installation in these sites is the long-term reliability of the support structures. In a flexible steel tower, a combination of vortex shedding and gusting caused fatigue cracks at the base joint. To identify the conditions critical to the development of this phenomenon, a two-blade down-wind turbine was thoroughly investigated in an in-field experimental campaign. This turbine features a 13m diameter rotor of rated power 11kW, mounted on an 18m tubular steel tower. In operation, the blades rotate at a fixed rate of 2 Hz. The tower, instrumented with 15 accelerometers, was first dynamically characterized in the absence of significant wind. Next, its spectral response to wind excitation was identified both in operation and with the rotor at rest. The outcome of the experiment suggests that the vulnerability to fatigue of this model of turbine is very sensitive to its modal behaviour, this in turn depending on the mechanical admittance of the foundations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStructural Dynamics and Renewable Energy
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 28th IMAC, A Conference on Structural Dynamics, 2010
EditorsTom Proulx
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781441997166
ISBN (Print)9781441997159
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2011
Event28th IMAC, A Conference on Structural Dynamics, 2010 - Jacksonville, FL, United States
Duration: 1 Feb 20104 Feb 2010

Publication series

NameConference Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Mechanics Series
ISSN (Print)2191-5644


Conference28th IMAC, A Conference on Structural Dynamics, 2010
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityJacksonville, FL


  • wind turbine
  • energy
  • vortex shedding
  • fatigue cracks


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