Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Embargo Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Achille Messac

Second Advisor

Can Isik


Energy production, Land usage, Multi-objective mixed-discrete particle swarm optimization, Multi-objective wind farm design, Sensitivity analysis, Wind farm layout optimization

Subject Categories



Wind is one of the major sources of clean and renewable energy, and global wind energy has been experiencing a steady annual growth rate of more than 20% over the past decade. In the U.S. energy market, although wind energy is one of the fastest increasing sources of electricity generation (by annual installed capacity addition), and is expected to play an important role in the future energy demographics of this country, it has also been plagued by project underperformance and concept-to-installation delays.

There are various factors affecting the quality of a wind energy project, and most of these factors are strongly coupled in their influence on the socio-economic, production, and environmental objectives of a wind energy project. To develop wind farms that are profitable, reliable, and meet community acceptance, it is critical to accomplish balance between these objectives, and therefore a clean understanding of how different design and natural factors jointly impact these objectives is much needed.

In this research, a Multi-objective Wind Farm Design (MOWFD) methodology is developed, which analyzes and integrates the impact of various factors on the conceptual design of wind farms. This methodology contributes three major advancements to the wind farm design paradigm: (I) provides a new understanding of the impact of key factors on the wind farm performance under the use of different wake models; (II) explores the crucial tradeoffs between energy production, cost of energy, and the quantitative role of land usage in wind farm layout optimization (WFLO); and (III) makes novel advancements on mixed-discrete particle swarm optimization algorithm through a multi-domain diversity preservation concept, to solve complex multi-objective optimization (MOO) problems.

A comprehensive sensitivity analysis of the wind farm power generation is performed to understand and compare the impact of land configuration, installed capacity decisions, incoming wind speed, and ambient turbulence on the performance of conventional array layouts and optimized wind farm layouts. For array-like wind farms, the relative importance of each factor was found to vary significantly with the choice of wake models, i.e., appreciable differences in the sensitivity indices (of up to 70%) were observed across the different wake models. In contrast, for optimized wind farm layouts, the choice of wake models was observed to have no significant impact on the sensitivity indices.

The MOWFD methodology is designed to explore the tradeoffs between the concerned performance objectives and simultaneously optimize the location of turbines, the type of turbines, and the land usage. More importantly, it facilitates WFLO without prescribed conditions (e.g., fixed wind farm boundaries and number of turbines), thereby allowing a more flexible exploration of the feasible layout solutions than is possible with other existing WFLO methodologies. In addition, a novel parameterization of the Pareto is performed to quantitatively explore how the best tradeoffs between energy production and land usage vary with the installed capacity decisions. The key to the various complex MO-WFLOs performed here is the unique set of capabilities offered by the new Multi-Objective Mixed-Discrete Particle Swarm Optimization (MO-MDPSO) algorithm, developed, tested and extensively used in this dissertation.

The MO-MDPSO algorithm is capable of dealing with a plethora of problem complexities, namely: multiple highly nonlinear objectives, constraints, high design space dimensionality, and a mixture of continuous and discrete design variables. Prior to applying MO-MDPSO to effectively solve complex WFLO problems, this new algorithm was tested on a large and diverse suite of popular benchmark problems; the convergence and Pareto coverage offered by this algorithm was found to be competitive with some of the most popular MOO algorithms (e.g., GAs). The unique potential of the MO-MDPSO algorithm is further established through application to the following complex practical engineering problems: (I) a disc brake design problem, (II) a multi-objective wind farm layout optimization problem, simultaneously optimizing the location of turbines, the selection of turbine types, and the site orientation, and (III) simultaneously minimizing land usage and maximizing capacity factors under varying land plot availability.


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