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Aerodynamic principles used in a rotor blade

We explain the aerodynamic principles used to make a turbine rotor rotate.

The Betz’ limit tells how much energy can be extracted from the wind. But how can the energy be extracted? For this purpose, we use the same principles as used for the wings on an airplane. In this lecture we look into the basic principles behind an aerofoil and how they are implemented in a wind turbine rotor.

Learning outcome.

  • Understand the basic working principles for a two-dimensional aerofoil.
  • Understand how lift and drag forces on a wing section contributes to the power extraction of the rotor.
  • Knowledge about the tip vortex system behind a HAWT.


After having watched the video, reflect upon the following:

  • What happens to the lift force on a wing section if the Kutta-Joukowski condition is not satisfied and the flow on the upper side separate before it reaches the trailing edge?
  • Why is it important to have a rounded leading edge.
  • Why is the wing profile close to the hub much thicker than close to the tip?

Further reading

Nielsen, F. G. (2024) Offshore Wind Energy: Environmental Conditions and Dynamics of Fixed and Floating Turbines, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Hansen, M.O.L. (2015) Aerodynamics of Wind Turbines. Third Edition, Routledge, London

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Introduction to Offshore Wind Energy

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