In this study, we present a methodology for the assessment of overall performance for vertical axis wind turbines (VAWT) with straight blades. Salient features of our approach include a validated computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model and a hardware-in-the loop (HIL) test-bed. The two-dimensional, time-dependent CFD model uses the k-ε turbulence model and is coupled with the dynamics of the rotor involving friction and generator torques. The power coefficient curve for the rotor is obtained from the CFD simulations by varying the generator torque over time, and then used in the HIL test-bed that consists of an electrical motor, a gearbox, a permanent magnet synchronous generator, and an electronic load. In this setup, the VAWT rotor is mimicked by the electrical motor based on a power coefficient curve obtained from CFD simulations. Effects of the electrical conversion and control design on the overall performance of the VAWT are studied in the HIL setup. Additionally, a simple non-linear control (SNC) algorithm that mimics a model predictive controller and two different adaptations of the maximum power point tracking (MPPT) algorithm with fixed and variable step-sizes are designed and implemented in HIL simulations. According to results, the generator has a profound effect on the overall power output and the efficiency of the turbine; and the SNC and MPPT algorithms perform satisfactorily under step wind conditions.

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