Institute for Wind Energy Systems Studies Courses
Rotor Blade Design for Wind Turbines

Rotor Blade Design for Wind Turbines

Rotorblätter auf dem Boden in ungewöhnlicher Perspektive Rotorblätter auf dem Boden in ungewöhnlicher Perspektive Rotorblätter auf dem Boden in ungewöhnlicher Perspektive © Helmut Gross

The design of rotor blades is a fundamental and extraordinarily important task, since the efficiency of wind turbines is fundamentally depending on the shape and the performance of the blades. The rotor blades have two basic functions: They have to convert the kinetic energy of the wind in rotational mechanical energy. For this purpose they have to generate optimal aerodynamic forces that drive the rotor. They also have to transfer the mechanical loads to the blade root, the hub and the tower. The rotor blades thus have to deliver light weight and high aerodynamical performance. Besides, they have to provide enough strength and stiffness in order to meet the requirements by current design guidelines.

In this course, we teach the areas of aerodynamic and structural design of wind turbine rotor blades.

Credit Points

6 CP / 5 CP

depending on PO



SWS: 2L / 1T



50 % each



Documents in parts EN

Highlight: Composite Lab

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The Composite Lab takes place at Fraunhofer IWES in Bremerhaven. It is executed in groups of up to 6 students as a four days block seminar. Fraunhofer IWES hands out Certificates of Attendance after successful completion. Accomodation is organised by the Institute.

The Composite Lab is compulsory for the course Rotor Blade Design for Wind Turbines.

After succesful completion students receive a Certificate of Attendance.

Learning Objectives

The course teaches the students numerous competences in the area of wind turbine rotor blade design. After successful completion, the students are able to

  • explain the physical properties of classical engineering materials used in wind turbine rotor blades,
  • name the structural components of rotor blades and explain their functionality,
  • choose appropriate materials for rotor blade structural components,
  • explain the classical laminate theory and failure models for fiber composites,
  • calculate and analyse the mechanical behaviour of rotor blades on the basis of a beam model,
  • perform an aerodynamic and structural design of a rotor blade taking into account energy yield and load optimisation and distinguish between those design goals,
  • evaluate the performance of wind turbine rotor blades,
  • distinguish between classical manufacturing technologies,
  • and explain methods of experimental verification in the lab and in the field.


The lecture of the module RBD contains the following topics:

  • History of rotor blade design
  • Properties of used materials
  • Mechanical behaviour of fiber composites
  • Classical laminate theory and beam model for rotor blades
  • Aerodynamic and structural design
  • Manufacturing technologies
  • Methods in experimental verification
  • CompLAB: Lab exercises on manufacturing of fiber composite structures up to a rotor blade model with a length of approximately 2 m

Tutorial and Homework

In the tutorials, the content of the lectures is consolidated in the context of calculation examples. The tutorials are subdivided into classical and interactive units. Besides, parts of the tutorial are integrated in the CompLAB.

In the accompanying homework, students carry out an own aerodynamic and structural design of a rotor blade for given design specifications. A graphical user interface of a Matlab tool is provided by the Institute. Programming skills are not required for the course.

Exam Modalities

For a successful completion of the course, students have to pass a two-stage exam. The first part is to finish a homework (HW), in which students apply independently the learned competences. For this purpose, they perform an aerodynamic and structural design of a rotor blade for pre-defined external conditions. The second part is an oral exam (OE) which lasts approximately 20 minutes. The overall grade is calculated as the arithmetic average of both parts.

Part I


50 h

Part II

Oral Exam

20 min



50 % each

Students have to register to the exam as well as to the additional achievement (CompLAB) in due time at Akademisches Prüfungsamt (APA).

Changes in the Master's studies "Energy Technology": Students receive 5 CP. In order to reduce the work load respectively, students do not need to write an elaborate homework report – submission of the electronic data (inputs and outputs) is sufficient. Beyond that, the exam remains unchanged.