Beginner's guide to fast?


I am writing my master thesis with the subject of developing a new concept of a floating turbine. However, since I am totally new to FAST and wind turbine engineering, I would like to ask if anyone can tell me some basic stuff on getting started with a landbased wind turbine for starters. I have read parts of the manual for FAST, but I think I need some help to get going.

  1. I would like to know which files I need in my directory for running fast
  2. How can I change the wind loads?
  3. Where do I change the properties of the tower (mass, moment of inertia, cross sectional area etc.)
  4. Where do the results of the calculations go?

Also, if anyone has a nice example for getting started it would be very helpful.

Thank you in advance.

Jacob K. Pedersen
University of Southern Denmark

Dear Jacob,

Unfortunately, we don’t have step-by-step instructions for starting with FAST. It may be helpful to review the presentations and sample models/simulations that were presented at our last modeling workshop. These are available for FAST v8.08 (not quite the newest version, but I don’t have newer materials that are so comprehensive) in my Sep 15, 2014 post in the forum topic found here: After that, I suggest that you study the various user’s guides and theory manuals.

Here are my answers to your direct questions:

See the “FAST v8 Input and Output Files” section of the FAST v8 ReadMe file:

From the InflowWind module. See the InflowWind User’s Guide for more information:

The structural properties are specified in ElastoDyn tower input file, but are given in terms of mass per unit length and sectional bending stiffness in the fore-aft and side-to-side directions instead of in terms of geometry and material properties.

See the “FAST v8 Input and Output Files” section of the FAST v8 ReadMe file linked above.

Best regards,

Hi Jason.

Thank you very much for your response, this is definitely helpful.

Best regards

Jacob K. Pedersen

Dear Jason,

Just another question:

I have looked into the viewtopic.php?f=38&t=653 thread. When you say that the sample models/simulations are available for FAST v.8.08, does that mean that I am not able to run the .fst files with my version 8.12 of FAST?

I have tried running a sample model and get an error message related to trying to read Echo and I wonder if it is because I am using a newer version of FAST. Can I change anything in the .fst files to run it on version 8.12 of FAST?

Thank you.

Jacob K. Pedersen

Dear Jacob,

The FAST v8 ReadMe file documents what has changed with each release of FAST v8, including changes to the input file(s): This ReadMe file also documents the scripts NREL has provided in the FAST v8 archive(s) to convert older FAST files to the newest format.

Best regards,

Dear Jason.

Thanks a lot again.


Jacob K. Pedersen

Dear Jason,

I am Wribhu, an MSc student at the University of Exeter, and I intend to use OpenFAST for my dissertation. I am new to using OpenFAST and I had the same queries as Jacob. I saw the thread and your replies but unfortunately, I am unable to see the links that you shared. Every time I click on them, it says the requested URL was not found on this server.

Any help would be massively appreciated.

Wribhu Ghosh

Dear Wribhu,

Unfortunately, the old NWTC Information Portal is no longer available, and that link is now broken–see the following announcement for more information:

Until the new website becomes live, I’ve placed the FAST v8 ReadMe file here: … sp=sharing.

Best regards,

Hello, everyone,

I am a new PhD student and I am a beginner in Openfast.
I have installed the Openfast successfully and finished the content before "2.4 Understanding CMake ". Due to the lack of knowledge of computer science, I find it is hard for me to follow the documentation. Should I learn how to use visual studio, intel Fortran compiler and CMake before learning openfast? I had almost never used any of them before. Or should I go back to learn FAST V8 first and then the Openfast?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Best Regards,
Ruiyang He

Dear Ruiyang,

Are you using Windows, Mac, or Linux?

If you don’t need to change the source code, NREL provides precompiled binary executables for Windows user’s:

Changing the source code requires a recompile. If you are a Windows user, Visual Studio with Intel Fortran is the likely easiest way to compile. If you are a Mac or Linux user, CMake is the likely easiest way to compile. Documentation for compiling is included in the OpenFAST readthedocs:

As a new user, there is likely no need to use an older version of the software. I would recommend starting with the master branch of OpenFAST (v2.4).

Best regards,

Dear Jason.

Thank you!

Best regards,
HE Ruiyang