Along with the upscaling tendency, lighter and so more flexible wind turbine blades are introduced for reducing cost of manufacture and materials. The flexible blade deforms under aerodynamic loads and in turn affects the flow field, arising the aero-elastic problems. In this paper, the impact of blade flexibility on the wind turbine loads, power production, and pitch actions is discussed. An aeroelastic model is developed for the study. A free wake vortex lattice model is used to calculate the aerodynamic loads, and a geometrically exact beam theory is adopted to compute the structural dynamics of the blade. The flap, lead-lag bending and torsion DOFs are all included and nonlinear effects due to large deflections are considered. The NREL 5MW reference wind turbine is analyzed. Influences of pure-bending and bending-torsion deformations of the blade on aerodynamic loads are compared. The aerodynamic force distributions under various wind speeds for rigid and flexible blades are also compared. The steady state deformations across the operational conditions are calculated, along with the rotor power production. Significant reduction of power is seen especially under large wind speeds, due to the blade twist deformations under torsion moments. Lower pitch angle settings should be applied to maintain the constant power.

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