NREL Selected for Offshore Turbine Research


The U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy awarded the National Renewable Energy Laboratory $5.7 million in funding for floating offshore wind turbine research, a move announced at the end of October.

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

The funding announcement comes as the NREL was recently named the prime contractor for three projects within ARPA-E’s Aerodynamic Turbines Lighter and Afloat with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control (ATLANTIS) program.

According to NREL, the program was formed 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. The program also involves building new computer tools to facilitate the FOWT design which will be validated though data collected from full and lab-scale experiments.

“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.”

Specifically, researchers from NREL will be focusing on:

  • Developing an open-source software tool, called Wind Energy with Integrated Servo-control, to enable control co-design optimization of FOWTs. ARPA-E awarded NREL $2,708,864 for the project. The lab 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. 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. The lab 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. The lab 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.

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


Tagged categories: Energy efficiency; Funding; NA; North America; Power; Power; Program/Project Management; Research; Research and development; Technology; U.S. Department of Energy; Wind Farm; Wind Towers

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