In this work, we perform a comprehensive comparative study of two advanced control algorithms—the classical tracking model predictive control (MPC) and economic MPC (EMPC)—in the optimal operation of wind energy conversion systems (WECSs). A typical 5 MW wind turbine is considered in this work. The tracking MPC is designed to track steady-state optimal operating reference trajectories determined using a maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithm. In the design of the tracking MPC, the entire operating region of the wind turbine is divided into four subregions depending on the wind speed. The tracking MPC tracks different optimal reference trajectories determined by the MPPT algorithm in these subregions. In the designed EMPC, a uniform economic cost function is used for the entire operating region and the division of the operating region into subregions is not needed. Two common economic performance indices of WECSs are considered in the design of the economic cost function for EMPC. The relation between the two economic performance indices and the implications of the relation on EMPC performance are also investigated. Extensive simulations are performed to show the advantages and disadvantages of the two control algorithms under different conditions. It is found that when the near future wind speed can be predicted and used in control, EMPC can improve the energy utilization by about 2% and reduce the operating cost by about 30% compared to classical tracking MPC, especially when the wind speed varies such that the tracking MPC switches between operating subregions. It is also found that uncertainty in information (e.g., future wind speed, measurement noise in wind speed) may deteriorate the performance of EMPC.
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