The American Wake Experiment (AWAKEN)


The American Wake Experiment (AWAKEN) is a landmark collaborative international wake observation and validation campaign. Wake interactions are among the least understood and most impactful physical interactions in wind plants today, leading to unexpected power losses and increased operations and maintenance costs.

The AWAKEN campaign is designed to gather observational data to address the most pressing science questions about wind turbine wake interactions and aerodynamics and to further understand wake behavior and validate wind plant models.

Simultaneously, the AWAKEN campaign will also focus on testing of wind farm control strategies that have been shown to increase wind plant power production. Leveraging the expertise and resources of a large body of National Laboratories, academic institutions, and industry partners will lead to improved wind farm layout with greater power production and improved reliability, ultimately leading to lower wind energy costs.


To produce a high-quality and comprehensive dataset that can be used by the international community to test research hypotheses in the field of wind-plant aerodynamics, and to develop and validate numerical models for wind energy applications.

Phase 1 is planned take place in 2021/2022. The measurement campaign portion of the project is expected to last between 12 and 24 months, but will depend heavily on site access to the wind plant among many other factors. Please visit the Timeline page for key dates and deadlines.

The measurements will be collected at an operational wind plant where the terrain is relatively smooth and homogeneous, and the wind resource is high and reliable. The exact wind plant has not been finalized, and candidate plants are currently being considered. The AWAKEN planning team is currently preparing a public request for information (RFI) to scope potential wind plants and partners. Please visit the Location page for additional information.

AWAKEN is intended to be a large-scale collaborative efforts between research laboratories, academic institutions and industry all over the world. The primary organizing committee is made up of researchers from the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) a research center within the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The project is open to any interested party, especially those that are interested in defining science goals, contributing to measurements, or sourcing funding.

Why participate in AWAKEN?

Industry partners have an opportunity to advance the performance and efficiency of operational wind farms and to develop new insights that will augment the capability of future wind farms. The communal effort to observations of the flow patterns within a wind farm by world leading experts will provide a view of the atmospheric flows within and around a wind farm with unprecedented detail, that will lead to more precise operational and control strategies to optimize wind farm performance and make wind energy assets more competitive. A better understanding of flows through the participant wind farms and resulting performance will be made through a combination of observation and simulation using cutting edge research simulation tools.

Academic partners can leverage the resources of the community participating in AWAKEN to design and validate new models that will be used for research and industry purposes. In addition to the science questions prioritized by the AWAKEN community at the March meeting, there are countless additional specific questions that could be tested along the way.

National Labs will use the AWAKEN project to further the research goals within the Atmosphere to Electrons (A2e) initiative. A2e is a multi-year U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) research initiative targeting significant reductions in the cost of wind energy through an improved understanding of the complex physics governing electricity generation by wind plants. The goal of A2e is to ensure future wind plants are sited, built, and operated in a way that produces the most cost-effective, usable electric power.

Project PIs
Patrick Moriarty - NREL,, Primary
Eliot Quon - NREL,, Data Management
Nicolas Hamilton - NREL,, Simulation Group
Tommy Herges - Sandia,, Instrumentation
Jeroen van Dam - NREL,, Experimental Logistics and Execution

Project Location

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