NREL Selected for Series of Offshore Wind Turbine Research Projects

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been awarded $5.7 million in new funding from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) for work in the field of floating offshore wind turbines.
NREL Selected for Series of Offshore Wind Turbine Research Projects
Dennis Schroeder / NREL

NREL was named prime contractor for three projects within ARPA-E’s Aerodynamic Turbines Lighter and Afloat with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control program, which seeks to develop radically new floating offshore wind turbines by maximizing their rotor-area-to-total-weight ratio while maintaining or ideally increasing turbine generation efficiency; build a new generation of computer tools to facilitate FOWT design; and collect real data from full and lab-scale experiments to validate the FOWT designs and computer tools.

“Offshore wind market forecasts show accelerated growth,” said Brian Smith, NREL’s wind laboratory program manager. “These projects ensure that innovative floating offshore wind technologies will continue to develop and expand U.S. offshore wind energy capacity.”

NREL researchers will be working on:

  • Developing an open-source software tool, called Wind Energy with Integrated Servo-control (WEIS), to enable control co-design optimization of FOWTs. ARPA-E awarded NREL $2,708,864 for the project. NREL is partnering with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign on this project.
  • Generating data for FOWT loads, motion, and performance as they develop the Floating Offshore-wind and Controls Advanced Laboratory (FOCAL). The award came with $1,529,923 in funding, which is meant to generate the first public FOWT scale-model dataset to include advanced turbine and hull controls, and hull flexibility. NREL is partnering with the University of Maine and DNV GL on this project.
  • Unlocking the floating offshore wind market by lowering the cost of energy below the 7.5 cents a kilowatt-hour generated by fixed-bottom offshore wind plants. The project, dubbed USFLOWT for Ultraflexible Smart FLoating Offshore Wind Turbine, comes with $1,500,000 in funding. NREL is partnering with the Colorado School of Mines, Colorado University at Boulder, University of Virginia, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the American Bureau of Shipping.

NREL also will be working on other ATLANTIS projects funded at the University of Maine, University of Texas at Dallas, Rutgers University, and the company WS Atkins.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.


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