US Programme Aims to Revolutionize Floating Wind Turbine Design

The US Department of Energy has announced up to USD 28 million in funding for a new Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) programme to develop new technologies for floating offshore wind turbines using the discipline of control co-design (CCD).


Floating wind turbines are currently designed to be large and heavy to replicate more familiar onshore wind turbine dynamics, maintain stability, and survive storms, ARPA-E said, adding that this approach fundamentally limits how inexpensive floating turbines can ever become.

The Aerodynamic Turbines, Lighter and Afloat, with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control (ATLANTIS) programme seeks to design radically new floating wind turbines by maximizing their rotor-area-to-total-weight ratio while maintaining or ideally increasing turbine generation efficiency.

The programme also aims to build a new generation of computer tools to facilitate the design of the wind turbines, and to collect real data from full and lab-scale experiments to validate the floating turbine designs and computer tools.

The programme encourages the application of CCD methodologies that integrate all relevant engineering disciplines at the start of the design process, with feedback control and dynamic interaction principles as the primary drivers of the design. CCD methodologies enable designers to analyze the interactions of floating turbines’ aero-, hydro-, elastic-, electric-, economic-, and servo-system dynamics, and propose solutions that permit optimal turbine designs not achievable otherwise.

The US offshore wind energy is estimated at more than 25 quads per year, with nearly 60% of it blowing across waters more than 200 feet deep. The energy harnessed by floating wind turbines could cover the entire US annual electricity consumption, according to ARPA-E.