WindFloat: A floating foundation for offshore wind turbines

  • Roddier D
  • Cermelli C
  • Aubault A
 et al. 
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This manuscript summarizes the feasibility study conducted for the WindFloat technology. The WindFloat is a three-legged floating foundation for multimegawatt offshore wind turbines. It is designed to accommodate a wind turbine, 5 MW or larger, on one of the columns of the hull with minimal modifications to the nacelle and rotor. Potential redesign of the tower and of the turbine control software can be expected. Technologies for floating foundations for offshore wind turbines are evolving. It is agreed by most experts that the offshore wind industry will see a significant increase in activity in the near future. Fixed offshore turbines are limited in water depth to ∼ 30 – 50   m . Market transition to deeper waters is inevitable, provided that suitable technologies can be developed. Despite the increase in complexity, a floating foundation offers the following distinct advantages: Flexibility in site location; access to superior wind resources further offshore; ability to locate in coastal regions with limited shallow continental shelf; ability to locate further offshore to eliminate visual impacts; an integrated hull, without a need to redesign the transition piece between the tower and the submerged structure for every project; simplified offshore installation procedures. Anchors are significantly cheaper to install than fixed foundations and large diameter towers. This paper focuses first on the design basis for wind turbine floating foundations and explores the requirements that must be addressed by design teams in this new field. It shows that the design of the hull for a large wind turbine must draw on the synergies with oil and gas offshore platform technology, while accounting for the different design requirements and functionality of the wind turbine. This paper describes next the hydrodynamic analysis of the hull, as well as ongoing work consisting of coupling hull hydrodynamics with wind turbineaerodynamic forces. Three main approaches are presented: The numerical hydrodynamic model of the platform and its mooring system; wave tank testing of a scale model of the platform with simplified aerodynamic simulation of the wind turbine;FAST, an aeroservoelastic software package for wind turbine analysis with the ability to be coupled to the hydrodynamic model. Finally, this paper focuses on the structural engineering that was performed as part of the feasibility study conducted for qualification of the technology. Specifically, the preliminary scantling is described and the strength and fatigue analysis methodologies are explained, focusing on the following aspects: The coupling between the wind turbine and the hull and the interface between the hydrodynamic loading and the structural response.

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  • Dominique Roddier

  • Christian Cermelli

  • Alexia Aubault

  • Alla Weinstein

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