Manchester Uni Studies Floating Wind Stabilization Options

The Manchester Metropolitan University has secured a GBP 124,000 grant from the Supergen Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Hub to test solutions for stabilizing floating offshore wind turbines.

In the one-year project, the UK university will develop computer models to test the best methods to stabilize and control the motions of the turbine and its semi-submerged support structure.

The project team has carried out computer modeling and a 1:30 scale model of the turbine will be tested in a wave tank with partners at Ningbo University in China.

“If you want to locate wind turbines far away from the shore at a water depth of more than 50m, a fixed-bottom turbine becomes a very expensive and challenging engineering project,” said Ling Qian, Reader in Computational Fluid Dynamics at the Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Flow Analysis and the lead academic of the project.

“So we need to develop a floating offshore wind turbine that works in water deeper than 50m, but that leaves the top-heavy turbines exposed to being buffeted by high winds and rough seas even if the buoyant support system is attached to mooring lines anchored to the sea floor.”

Based on a developed code, the Manchester Metropolitan University computer cluster will be used to run a simulation of waves interacting with a platform based on an existing design for floating support structures.

The design comprises three connected columns 50m apart, creating a triangle frame in which the turbine sits, keeping the majority of the mast above the surface of the water.

The model will incorporate two proposed stabilization measures, including a tuned liquid damper filled with water, which sloshes as the platform moves and acts as a counterbalance and helps absorb the rotational movements, and heave plates placed under the three columns to suppress the up and down motion.

According to the university, the testing will first be carried out with one and then by adding the second.

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