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Engineering Challenges for Floating Offshore Wind Turbines

Floating platforms for wind turbines have been proposed for many years but only recently has the technology matured enough to seriously consider overcoming the technical challenges required to design successful machines. The offshore oil and gas industry has proven that the technical challenges can be overcome but the economics of implementing this industry’s solution would prohibit any deployment of machines in a competitive wind energy market. The challenge is a primarily economic one. These economic challenges present technical challenges. This paper has outlined these challenges and suggested goals that lead to economical floating systems. This paper provides a framework for classification of floating wind turbine platforms on the basis of static stability criteria that can be used as a practical method to perform first-order economic analysis on a wide range of platform architectures. Floating systems offer the opportunity to perform most of the assembly process onshore in production facilities that can maximize the advantage of series production. Through high production floating systems that are lower cost than fixed bottom systems, which must be constructed at sea, may be possible. These systems could be deployed in a wide range of site conditions including high wind sites located further offshore in deep water, ultimately leading to the lowest cost offshore turbines.
S. Butterfield, W. Musial, J. Jonkman, P. Sclavounos
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Industry Focus: 
Machinery & Equipment
United States
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