Researchers at NREL recently released version 8.15 of FAST (FAST v8), an open-source, multiphysics engineering software tool used to design and analyze wind turbines. FAST v8 is also an open-source modular platform for creating, testing, and demonstrating new modeling and analysis capabilities.

The new features in FAST v8 include:

  • The ability to model advanced aeroelastically tailored blades, including curved geometry, large deflections, and composite-material couplings
  • A new visualization capability based on either surface or stick-figure geometry for viewing model configurations and time-series animations
  • An enhanced InflowWind module, which is separated from AeroDyn and updated to support different wind-file formats and arbitrary wind directions for all wind-file types
  • A new driver for AeroDyn v15, allowing for aerodynamic analysis in standalone mode uncoupled from FAST
  • Enhanced modeling of nacelle- and tower-based tuned mass dampers
  • Enhanced functionality for the interface to Bladed-style dynamic link library controllers
  • Checkpoint-restart capability
  • Improved GNU Fortran compatibility.

FAST v8 also contains several new features specific to the modeling of offshore wind systems. Some of the new offshore features include the ability to:

  • Input a wave-elevation time series, such as one measured either from a wave probe in a tank or a buoy in the open ocean
  • Enter full wave kinematics (wave velocities, accelerations, and dynamic pressures) throughout the fluid domain to enable the use of external wave models
  • Model the dynamics of mooring lines using two new mooring modules for floating systems
  • Couple to the commercial marine-system design and analysis tool, OrcaFlex (developed by Orcina), for increased capabilities in modeling floating wind turbines.

These features increase accuracy in predicting the behavior of offshore wind systems, expand the ability to validate FAST v8 against measurements of offshore wind systems tested either in a tank or open water, and ultimately enable the development of more innovative and cost-effective offshore wind turbine designs.

FAST v8 has undergone the first phase of validation for advanced aeroelastically tailored blades, which provides new understanding of and confidence in the tool’s modeling capabilities. NREL researchers, in collaboration with Siemens Energy engineers, compared FAST v8 results against:

  • Experimental measurements from the heavily instrumented Siemens 2.3-megawatt turbine stationed at the National Wind Technology Center at NREL
  • Results generated by BHawC (turbine modeling software developed by Siemens).

These comparisons demonstrated that FAST v8 predictions agree consistently with those of BHawC and the measured data, building confidence in applying FAST v8 to the design and analysis of innovative rotor technology.

The latest public release under the FAST modularization framework, FAST v8 is available for download