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Innovative breeze powering floating wind farms

The first floating offshore wind farms will soon start production [1] shortly followed by many others. Meanwhile, a dozen concepts for floating wind turbines have already been developed to a significant level of technical detail (TRL 4 or above). At this rate, floating offshore wind can become a valid option to provide energy to large cities located close to deep oceans in the near future.

Through the dedicated expertise of its Renewable Energy Team, MARIN is actively helping many of these projects in optimising and assessing the performance of their floating turbine. However, MARIN can certainly do more in this race to lower life cycle costs by thinking out-of-the-box more often. This year a ‘MARINnovatief’ proposal was awarded to literally lift some of the anchors of floating wind.

Sébastien Gueydon

A MARIN engineer observed that each floating foundation is currently moored individually, and he took it upon himself to

investigate if it is possible to save time and money by using a mooring system for the whole wind farm rather than for each turbine. The study itself represents a challenge as MARIN will have to efficiently take a large number of floating turbines into account in a coupled simulation. Wind turbines mainly interact with each other through the aerodynamic wake.

The modelling of wakes is a hot research topic in the industry as it is required to optimise a wind farm layout in order to increase overall production. MARIN’s ambition is not to develop new wake models but to be ready to apply some of this research to a farm of floating wind turbines. The main goal here is to build some experience on how to optimise the mooring system of a floating farm. We will keep you updated on this fascinating study.

1. Hywind Scotland Pilot Park (30 MW) off the coast of Aberdeen:

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Hywind wind farm Courtesy Statoil

Offshore wind farms are undoubtedly one of the big engineering challenges of the 21st century. It combines the design, installation, operation and maintenance of some of the largest manmade structures and this has to be done within extremely tight cost constraints.

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