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The IES Journal Part A: Civil & Structural Engineering

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Research on floating wind turbines: a literature


C. M. Wang , T. Utsunomiya , S. C. Wee & Y. S. Choo

To cite this article: C. M. Wang , T. Utsunomiya , S. C. Wee & Y. S. Choo (2010) Research on
floating wind turbines: a literature survey, The IES Journal Part A: Civil & Structural Engineering,
3:4, 267-277, DOI: 10.1080/19373260.2010.517395

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Published online: 20 Oct 2010.

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The IES Journal Part A: Civil & Structural Engineering
Vol. 3, No. 4, November 2010, 267–277

Research on floating wind turbines: a literature survey
C.M. Wanga, T. Utsunomiyab, S.C. Weec* and Y.S. Chooc
Engineering Science Programme and Department of Civil Engineering, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge, Singapore
119260, Singapore; bDepartment of Civil and Earth Resources Engineering, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan; cDepartment of Civil
Engineering, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge, Singapore 119260, Singapore
(Received 1 June 2010; final version received 6 July 2010)

This article presents a literature survey of research and development on floating wind turbines. The various,
proposed conceptual designs for floating platforms used for floating wind turbines are described and the working
principles of these various floater concepts are outlined. This is followed by an overview of the research work that
has been undertaken pertaining to floating wind turbine technology by several research institutes and the academic
community. The research work undertaken to date is reviewed categorically according to the proposed floater
concept (spar-buoy type, TLP type, semi-submersible type, pontoon type and others) as per sections 3–7. Based on
the research work undertaken thus far, recommendations for future work are suggested.
Keywords: floating wind turbine; literature review; spar; TLP; semi-submersible; pontoon

1. Introduction also triggered much research on offshore wind

The urgent concern about global warming from the turbines. Already some countries, like the United
emission of greenhouse gases has provided a strong Kingdom and China, are considering constructing
impetus for engineers and scientists worldwide to huge wind farms offshore to take advantage of the
research alternative renewable and clean energy. generally steadier and stronger winds found in the sea
Mankind could be weaned from the ‘dirty’ burning (note that the power obtained from the wind is
of oil, gas and coal for the ever increasing energy proportional to the cube of the wind speed). Moreover,
demands to power development and modern living by the wind turbines can be larger than those on land
switching to renewable and clean energy that are because they can be transported to the site by sea (note
harvested from the sun, waves, tides, currents and that the power obtained from the wind is proportional
winds. Solar energy and wind power are the fastest to the swept area of the wind turbine blades). In
growing renewable energy technologies. In this article, addition, floating wind turbines have less restrictive
we shall focus on the harvesting of wind power using acoustic requirements and are not visible if their
wind turbines (or aero-generators). distance L from the shoreline is L 4 Ö(2HR) where
Denmark, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and H is the hub height and R the radius of the Earth
the United States are currently the world leaders (Sclavounos 2008). The status, plans and technologies
in wind energy technology. These countries have for offshore wind turbines in Europe and North
mega wind farms. Each wind farm comprises a few America are presented in an excellent review paper
hundred wind turbines that are spread over hundreds by Breton and Moe (2009).
of square kilometres. For example, the Roscoe wind Offshore wind turbines may be bottom founded or
farm in Roscoe, Texas, United States has 627 wind of the floating type. Generally when the water depth is
turbines and covers over 100,000 acres of land. These shallow or moderately deep (i.e. less than 50 m), it is
wind farms are, however, unsightly and they swallow more economical to have bottom founded wind
up valuable land for agriculture and urban develop- turbines, i.e. driven monopiles or conventional con-
ment. Recognising these concerns, Professor William crete gravity bases as foundations. A large number of
E. Heronemus (1972) proposed the use of large-scale such bottom founded offshore wind turbines are found
offshore floating wind farms. Although Heronemus’ off the coast of Denmark (e.g. the Horns Rev 2
vision of offshore wind farms dates back to 1972, it was offshore wind farm). For large water depths and soft
not until the mid 1990s that the commercial offshore seabeds, floating wind turbines are attractive due to a
wind industry was established. The new industry has cheaper anchor installation than the cost of a fixed

*Corresponding author. Email:

ISSN 1937-3260 print/ISSN 1937-3279 online

Ó 2010 The Institution of Engineers, Singapore
DOI: 10.1080/19373260.2010.517395
268 C.M. Wang et al.

foundation. Floating wind turbines can be used in coupled, integrated dynamic response analysis
water as deep as 700 m and obviate the need for tall in combined wind and wave loading needs to be
towers and specialised materials designed for deep developed. The interaction of the floater and
water (Hansen 2006). Moreover, floating wind turbines wind turbine system requires further study. The
allow deployment further offshore to tap greater wind survivability, reliability and availability of the
power and eliminate unpleasant visual impact. The system have to be demonstrated.
economics of the floating wind turbines in deep waters
will be determined by the additional costs of the To address all these areas of research is beyond
floating structure and power distribution system which the scope of this article. This article emphasises the
are offset by higher offshore winds and close proximity research and development made on the floater. The
to large load centres. One would expect to see such objective of this article is to provide a literature survey
floating wind turbines being constructed in the near of the researches done on this subject. In the article, we
future as Musial et al. (2004) have demonstrated that first present the different types of floating wind
with significant system optimisation, the large-scale turbines. Then we review the research investigations
deployment of offshore floating wind turbines can be done thus far on these different forms of floating wind
brought into an economical range for the industry. turbines and furnish some recommendations on future
However, there are inherent engineering challenges research work.
associated with floating offshore wind turbines as
Musial et al. (2004) have cautioned. A steep learning
curve still has to be surmounted, and a firm under- 2. Types of floating wind turbines
standing of bottom found offshore wind turbine Drawing from the design classifications of floating
technology is necessary before endeavouring to pro- offshore platforms for the offshore oil and gas
ceed to the afloat condition. For a brief treatise on the industry, floating wind turbines can also be categorised
engineering challenges associated with floating off- into four main types. They are:
shore wind turbines, recourse is sought to an excellent
conference paper by Butterfield et al. (2005). . Spar-buoy type
Through a cursory review of academic literature . Tension-leg platform (TLP) type
pertaining to floating offshore wind turbines, one can . Semi-submersible type (Column stabilised)
observe and identify, in a very broad and generic . Pontoon-type (Barge-type).
sense, three areas of active research and development
(R & D): As shown in Figure 1, the spar wind
turbine comprises the floating foundation (or some-
(1) R & D into the interfacing, buffering and times referred to as the floater), the tower and the
smoothing of the intermittent/fluctuating elec-
trical output with the grid. This is for the case
where transmission cables are run to shore.
Where transmission lines are not intended to be
laid, the focus is on the usage of power
generated which is essentially an energy balance
problem. Whether to store the energy and in
what manifestation (e.g. hydrogen) or to utilise
(e.g. produce potable water).
(2) R & D into the design of turbo-machinery for
the afloat condition. Adapting and modifying
land-based wind turbines, not only just for the
marine environment as in the case of bottom
founded offshore wind turbines but also for the
afloat condition is imperative. Gearing, drive
train, rotor and nacelle tolerance to roll, pitch,
surge and heave motion have to be addressed.
Additionally, nacelle yaw and rotor blade pitch
control mechanisms have to be modified to suit
new design specifications and requirements.
(3) R & D into the design of the floater. Figure 1. Spar-buoy type floating wind turbine
Sophisticated simulation tools capable of fully (Utsunomiya et al. 2010).
The IES Journal Part A: Civil & Structural Engineering 269

rotor-nacelle assembly (RNA). The floater may be the company SWAY available from: 5http://www.
towed in the horizontal position to calm waters near This free-yawing effect is similar to the
the deployment site. It is then upended, stabilised, and weathervaning mechanism found in a Floating Pro-
the tower and the RNA mounted by a derrick crane duction Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO) turret
barge before finally being towed by escort tugs in the mooring in the offshore oil and gas industry. Although
vertical position to the deployment site for connection favourable because the wind turbine will always face
to the mooring system. The floating foundation the direction of oncoming wind thus optimising power
(consisting of a steel and/or concrete cylinder filled generation, the single vertical tendon may not provide
with a ballast of water and gravels to keep the centre of for a degree of redundancy in the event of failure,
gravity well below the centre of buoyancy) ensures the resulting in unrestrained drifting of the floater. The
wind turbine floats in the sea and stays upright since it first full scale size spar floating turbine has been
creates a large righting moment arm and high inertial deployed off the south-west coast of Karmoy Island,
resistance to pitch and roll motions. The floater is Norway by Statoil in the Hywind demonstration
ballasted by permanent solid iron ore ballast, concrete project. This demonstration project will operate for a
or gravel from a chute. Alternatively, the ballast tanks period of at least 2 years, the objective being to gain
may be injected with grout. It should be remarked that knowledge on practical aspects of the operation and
the spar type is difficult to capsize. The draft of the maintenance of floating wind turbines. The turbine has
floating foundation is usually larger than or at least a 2.3 MW rating, a rotor diameter of 82.4 m, a hub-
equal to the hub height above the mean sea level for height of 65 m, a floating foundation draft of 100 m,
stability and to minimise heave motion. Therefore, it is weighs 5300 tonnes, and is moored by 3 taut mooring
necessary to have deep water for deployment of this lines in deep water.
spar-type floating wind turbine as adequate keel to sea- The TLP type comprises a floating platform
bed vertical clearance is required for the mooring structure to carry the wind turbine as shown in
system to be effective. The spar floating wind turbine is Figure 2a. In the offshore oil and gas industry, the
usually kept in position by a taut or a catenary spread conventional TLP platform comprises a square pon-
mooring system using anchor-chains, steel cables and/ toon with columns on which the topside deck rests. A
or synthetic fibre ropes. Alternatively, it may be smaller version of this conventional hull form is the
moored by a single vertical tendon held at the base mini-TLP which has been adopted by the TLP-type
by a swivel connection that allows the wind turbine to floating wind turbine (see Figure 2b). Unlike the spar-
revolve as the wind changes direction (as proposed by type which needs to be assembled in water, this TLP

Figure 2. (a) TLP-type floating wind turbine (Suzuki et al. 2009b) and (b) offshore oil and gas mini-TLP.
270 C.M. Wang et al.

wind turbine may be assembled and commissioned

onshore thereby avoiding the logistical difficulties of
offshore assembly. The fully fitted up platform is towed
to the deployment site thus precluding the need to
charter and mobilise expensive heavy-lift vessels or
derrick crane barges for offshore construction. The
floating platform is held in position by vertical tendons
(also called tethers) which are anchored either by a
template foundation, suction caissons or by pile driven
anchors. The pretensioned tethers provide the righting
stability. This type of floating wind turbine has a
relatively less dynamic response to waves when
compared to the spar-buoy type, the semi-submersible Figure 3. Semi-submersible type floating wind turbine
type or the pontoon type but is subject to a (Principle Power, Inc).
phenomenon known as ‘pull down’ which is an
increase in draft as the platform is offset from its
equilibrium position. A TLP wind turbine has since
been installed off the coast of Puglia, southern Italy
by Blue H Technologies (5http://www.bluehgroup.
com/4). This large scale prototype is used to test the
assembly, transportation and installation of the TLP-
type wind energy converter as well as to serve as a
metering platform with sensors to measure site specific
data. The turbine can generate 80 kW, uses a two
bladed rotor and is deployed in a water depth of
108 m.
The semi-submersible type comprises a few large
column tubes connected to each other by tubular
members. A wind turbine may sit on one of the column
tubes or there could be wind turbines sitting in all the
columns. Alternatively, the wind turbine may be
positioned at the geometric centre of the column tubes
and supported by lateral bracing members. The
column tubes provide the ballast and they are partially Figure 4. Semi-submersible type floating wind turbine
filled with water. When in the afloat condition, the (Ishihara et al. 2007).
water-plane area of the columns primarily provides
floatation stability, hence the term ‘column stabilised’.
This design is good in providing stability to the wind
turbine and its relatively shallow draft allows for site
flexibility. The semi-submersible floating wind turbine
is kept in position by mooring lines. This type of
floating wind turbine may be constructed onshore.
Until now, there is no semi-submersible floating wind
turbine in operation. Principle Power Inc. is promoting
the semi-submersible type which consists of three
column tubes with patented horizontal water entrap-
ment heave plates at the bases as shown in Figure 3.
The heave plates primarily serve to reduce heave and
pitch motion without increasing floating platform size.
Water is pumped from one column tube to the other so
as to keep the entire semi-submersible on an even keel.
Its specifications are 5 MW power rating, 125 m rotor
diameter, 100 m hub height, 400 tonne turbine, 400
tonne tower and 25 m draft. Figure 6 shows another Figure 5. NMRI concept of pontoon-type wind turbine
concept design of semi-submersible type as proposed 5
The IES Journal Part A: Civil & Structural Engineering 271

Figure 7. Sailing-type floating wind turbine (Picture

courtesy of National Institute for Environmental Studies,
Figure 6. Prof Ohta’s concept of pontoon-type wind Japan).
turbine with rotor shroud nozzle.

which is offloaded to shuttle tankers, thus precluding

the need for transmission cables to shore.
by Ishihara et al. (2007a,b). It has three wind turbines
seated on three tubular columns.
The pontoon-type has a very large pontoon 3. Research into spar-type floating wind turbine
structure to carry a group of wind turbines. The large Tong (1998) presented the conceptual design for
pontoon structure achieves stability via distributed FLOAT which is a spar-type floating wind turbine.
buoyancy and by taking advantage of the weighted The FLOAT system aims to enable the economical
water plane area for righting moment. The pontoon- generation of electricity from wind power in offshore
type may be moored by conventional catenary anchor locations, typically between 100 and 300 m water
chains. However, the setback of the pontoon-type wind depth. The technical and economic aspect of installing
turbine is that it is susceptible to the roll and pitch an offshore wind farm based on the FLOAT concept is
motions in waves experienced by ocean-going ship- addressed as well as issues with regard to legal,
shaped vessels and may only be sited in calm seas, like environmental, fabrication and installation operations
in a harbour, sheltered cove or lagoon. The National are considered.
Maritime Research Institute (NMRI) in Tokyo has Nielson et al. (2006) and Skaare et al. (2007)
made some studies on such pontoon-type floating wind developed simulation models for integrated dynamic
turbines. Design concepts of NMRI and that of Prof analysis of the spar-type floating wind turbines
Ohta from Kyushu University are shown in Figures 5 proposed as Hywind and compared their numerical
and 6, respectively. results with model scale test results. They considered
It should be remarked that there are clearly hybrid various environmental conditions and wind turbine
types of floating wind turbines, for example a control schemes. They showed the importance of the
combination of spar floater and tension leg mooring effect of pitch-angle control of blades on the dynamic
system. Also, there is an interesting concept of a response of the floating wind turbine for wind speeds
sailing-type floating wind turbine (see Figure 7) that above the rated wind speed. This indicates that the
was studied at the National Institute for Environ- modelling of aero-hydro-servo dynamic coupling is
mental Studies, Japan (2007). The floating wind power necessary for proper dynamic response analysis.
plant has no mooring system but navigates with sails Suzuki and Sato (2007) investigated the effect of a
and azimuth thrusters. The self-sailing and self- stabilising fin attached at the base of the floating
propelled mobility allows the wind farm to move to a foundation in reducing the pitch motion of the floating
location that maximises the generation of wind power spar wind turbine. The concept is analogous to roll
as well as to weather route from storms. The slender stabilisation fins and bilge keels on ship-shaped vessels.
lower and upper hulls are lightweight composites to The fin can reduce the rotational motion of the wind
minimise construction costs and enhance the propul- turbine about the vertical axis (due to non-uniform
sive performance. Wind power generated is utilised in- wind load) because the fin provides additional hydro-
situ for the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen dynamic mass. Moreover, the fin assists in moving the
272 C.M. Wang et al.

natural periods of roll, pitch and yaw away from the are evaluated at the instantaneous positions along the
wave period range by the added mass to avoid centre axis of the floating body (not on the body in still
resonance. position). The extrapolated linear wave theory is used
Moriya et al. (2007) conducted an experiment to for integration of the wave forces along the floating
investigate the dynamic response of a spar-type body. The inertia coefficient is set as CM ¼ 2.0 and the
floating wind turbine under combined wind and wave drag coefficient as CD ¼ 1.2. The vertical forces acting
environmental loads. Sato and Suzuki (2006) consid- on the bottom surface and the horizontal plane
ered only three degrees of freedom, i.e. surge, heave surfaces at the stepped parts are evaluated by dynamic
and pitch. Therefore, variations of loads or the effect pressure evaluated from the linear wave theory. The
of the gyro-moment of the rotor rotation was not added mass force in the vertical direction is evaluated
taken into consideration. Matsukuma and Utsuno- by an empirical formula based on the volume of a
miya (2008) performed a motion analysis of a spar- semi-sphere. The drag force acting in the vertical
type floating wind turbine under steady wind con- direction is also evaluated empirically by using the
sidering rotor-rotation. The wind loads acting on the relative velocity formulation with CDV ¼ 2.0. The
rotor blades are calculated using the blade element equations of motion for the spar-type floating wind
momentum theory. As a result, the motion of yaw, turbine as a six degree of freedom rigid body are solved
sway and roll are generated due to the effect of the in the time domain. The mooring lines are modelled as
gyro-moment for the rotor-rotation. For the same type linear springs and the restoring forces calculated. In
floating turbine, wave response was examined experi- order to include the effect of damping from the
mentally using 1/100 scale models and compared with mooring lines, the damping force acting in each
numerical simulations carried out by Nishida et al. mooring line is calculated by an empirical formula
(2008). Utsunomiya et al. (2009a) continued the study given by Fdamp ¼ 2x Ö(Mku), where x ¼ 0.01, M is the
by determining the motion of a prototype spar wind total mass, k the spring coefficient of the mooring line,
turbine under regular and irregular waves and a steady and u the velocity of the mooring line end attachment
horizontal force that simulates the steady wind point in the direction of the mooring line.
condition. The prototype wind turbine is 2 MW, has Suzuki et al. (2009a) presented different scenarios
an 80 m rotor diameter and a hub height of 55 m. The of progressive drifting of spar floating wind turbines
floating foundation has a 60 m draft and circular that are closely spaced in a wind farm so as to
sections of diameter 12 m at the lower part, 8.4 m at minimise installation costs. An accidental drifting of a
the middle part and 4.8 m at the upper part. floating turbine may lead to collision or contact made
Experimental tests using a 1/22.5 scale model were between moorings of neighbouring wind turbines.
carried out in the deep sea wave basin at the NMRI. They evaluated the risk of each scenario and
The numerical and experimental results agree well. discussed the effect of arrangement of wind turbines
Further experimental tests on the stepped-type floating in a wind farm and the safety factors to be used in the
cylinder by Utsunomiya et al. (2009b) moored at design of moorings.
different positions showed that smaller heave and pitch Karimirad and Moan (2010) carried out structural
motions are obtained when the stepped cylinder is dynamic response analyses of a spar-type wind turbine
moored at the upper position when compared its in the extreme survival condition. Their technical
uniform cylinder counterpart. More recently, Utsuno- paper focused on the determination of extreme
miya et al. (2010) carried out a sea experiment on a 1/ responses for Ultimate Limit State design checks.
10 scale model of a hybrid (i.e. concrete and steel Numerical simulation for coupled wave and wind
construction for the floating foundation) spar-type induced motion and structural response in harsh
wind turbine. The site is 30 m off the coast of Sasebo, conditions for a parked floating wind turbine were
Japan. Valuable test results on the six degree of undertaken. The critical structural responses were
freedom motion of the tower base were obtained. predicted by coupled aero-hydro-elastic time domain
These results validate the numerical method and simulation. From the predicted results in their study, a
computer code for the dynamic analysis of spar-type wide banded, Gaussian process was observed and the
floating wind turbines under wave and wind forces. wind induced resonant responses (mainly platform
In Utsunomiya et al.’s (2009a) simulation code, pitch resonance) were dominant.
Morison’s equation is used for the evaluation of the
wave force on the spar floating turbine. As a moving
body, the relative velocity formulation is used (see e.g. 4. Research into TLP-type floating wind turbine
6.2.4. of Det Norske Veritas, 2006). The added mass Withee and Sclavounos (2004) performed fully coupled
coefficients are calculated by the linear diffraction time-domain simulations of the system responses for a
theory. The water particle velocities and accelerations 1.5 MW wind turbine mounted on a TLP floater under
The IES Journal Part A: Civil & Structural Engineering 273

wind and wave forces. They presented the simulation a 1/100 scale model in a wave basin. The floater motion
results for surge free decay tests carried out to estimate characteristics, tensions in the tendons and bending
the damping arising from the turbine rotor and the moments of the tower were measured. Their experi-
wave and viscous damping arising from the buoy. They ments indicated that in the case of applied waves and
found that the two damping mechanisms were wind, the wind has the beneficial effect of stabilising
comparable in magnitude and that the damping arising the floater pitch motion and decreasing the vibration
from the turbine rotor appears to obey a distinctly of the mooring lines. An estimate of the reduction of
linear law. Typical system responses and rotor blade electricity generation resulting from static heel was also
root bending moments for a particular wind speed given. The authors stressed that the reduction due to
were also given. pitch motion, as distinguished from static list, was not
Lee (2004) carried out frequency domain response considered.
analysis of both TLP and Spar Buoy types of floating
wind turbines in order to compare the performances of
the two floater concepts. He found the TLP type to be 5. Research into semi-submersible floating wind
relatively soft in surge and sway but extremely stiff in turbine
the rotational modes whereas the spar-type was found Henderson and Patel (1998) presented analytical and
to be stiff in surge and sway but softer in the rotational numerical design tools for evaluating the performance
modes. of semi-submersible floating wind turbines. They
Suzuki et al. (2009b) developed a conceptual design addressed the principal problems that include the
of a TLP-type floating structure for offshore wind determination of an optimum hull-form for the
farms. The design is based on their past experience in floating structure and of developing analysis tools for
the design and fabrication of TLP which takes into the interaction of the motion in waves of the platform
consideration the stability of the structure, mooring with the turbine aerodynamic performance as well as
forces and ease in maintenance. From their dynamic the blade and hub loads. They also discussed
analysis of the TLP floating wind turbine, they found secondary issues such as platform weathervaning, its
that the proposed TLP has excellent characteristic mooring system and the means for energy transmission
features in dynamic response and was able to satisfy to shore.
the extreme operating environmental conditions, re- Zambrano et al. (2006) applied a Fourier spectrum
sonance with the wind turbine system and earthquakes. based model of Gulf of Mexico storm conditions to a
Weinzettel et al. (2009) performed a life cycle six degree of freedom analytic simulation of a moored,
assessment of a floating offshore wind turbine based on floating offshore structure fitted with three wind
the Sway concept TLP type floater. The preliminary turbines. The resulting heave, surge and sway motions
life cycle assessment considered the environmental were calculated using a Newtonian Runge-Kutta
impact of the floating wind turbine and highlighted the method. The forces due to wind, waves and mooring
importance of the decommissioning scenario whereby line tension were predicted as a function of time. The
materials are recycled to mitigate detrimental effects on WAMIT program was used to develop the wave forces
the environment. on the platform. A constant force coefficient was used
Bae et al. (2010) performed a rotor-floater-tether to estimate wind turbine loads.
coupled dynamic analysis on a mini TLP-type offshore Shimada et al. (2007) and Ishihara et al. (2007a,b,
floating wind turbine. The time domain numerical 2008) studied the dynamic response of a semi-
simulation included blade-rotor dynamics, mooring submersible type under waves as shown in Figure 4.
dynamics and platform motions. The dynamic cou- The semi-submersible structure carries three wind
pling between the rotating blades and the floater, in turbines. Their papers present basic characteristics of
addition to, the mooring-floater dynamic coupling was the wave-induced motion of the semi-submersible
considered and assessed. When compared with the floating structure from numerical computations and
uncoupled analysis results, more pronounced rotor- 1/150 scaled rigid model experiments in a wave tank.
dynamics effects at high frequencies in the coupled In the numerical computations, nonlinear damping
simulations was observed, which has implications on effect due to hydrodynamic drag forces (modelled by
fatigue life. The paper sought to convey that the the Morison’s formula) and inertia forces (by using
numerical tool and methodology was applicable to the Srinivasan’s model) are considered in the equation of
design of new offshore floating wind turbines in motion, where the linear hydrodynamic forces are
irregular waves, dynamic winds and steady currents. obtained from the Green’s function model. As a result,
Nihei and Fujioka (2010) investigated the motion the response characteristics around the resonant
characteristics of a TLP-type offshore wind turbine in frequency region were successfully improved. In
waves and wind. They performed experimental tests on addition, the structural stability for severe wave
274 C.M. Wang et al.

conditions and the long-term fatigue limit state were wind turbine. The analysis aims to characterise the
also investigated. Ishihara et al. (2009) carried out a dynamic response and to identify potential loads and
water tank experiment to study the influence of heave instabilities that would be detrimental to such a
plates on the dynamic response of a semi-submersible pontoon-type design. They found that coupling
type floating wind turbine. They found that the heave between the turbine response and the pontoon pitch
plates help to increase the natural period of heave, motion produces larger extreme loads in the floating
thereby resulting in a reduction of heave response at turbine tower and blades. The pontoon was found to
rated and extreme sea states. be susceptible to excessive pitching in extreme wave
In a three part paper presented at the OMAE conditions. The compliance of the floating pontoon
Conference 2009, Cermelli, Roddier and their associ- wind turbine did, however, reduce a tower side-to-side
ates conducted a feasibility study for the WindFloat instability that occurred in land-based turbines. They
technology for a semi-submersible floating wind suggested some design modifications to reduce the
turbine. As shown in Figure 3, the WindFloat is a pontoon motions and to eliminate the instabilities.
three-legged floating foundation for very large offshore Wayman and Sclavounos (2006) also presented meth-
wind turbines. It is designed to accommodate a wind ods for the coupled structural, hydrodynamic and
turbine, 5 MW or larger, on one of the columns of the aerodynamic analysis of the floating pontoon type in
hull with minimal modifications to the tower, nacelle the frequency domain.
and turbine. The first part (Roddier et al. 2009) For greater stability, the National Maritime
focused on the design basis for wind turbine floating Research Institute (NMRI) proposed a grillage-pon-
foundations. The authors pointed out that the design toon-type floating wind turbine system where two wind
of the hull for a large wind turbine must draw on the turbines are placed at opposite ends of the pontoon
synergies with oil and gas offshore platform technol- (see Figure 5). Note that a three-wind turbine concept
ogy, while accounting for the different design require- was initially proposed but due to strength problems,
ments and functionality of the wind turbine. In the the number of wind turbines was reduced to two. The
second part, Cermelli et al. (2009) carried out pontoon has a length of 187 m, width of 60 m and a
hydrodynamic analysis of the hull of the floating depth of 6–14 m. The hub height of the wind turbine is
foundation. They presented (i) the numerical hydro- 80 m and its rotor diameter is 120 m. The floating
dynamic model of the platform and its mooring wind turbine is kept in place by mooring lines. Yago
system, (ii) a wave tank testing of a scale model of et al. (2007) performed experimental wave basin test
the platform with simplified aerodynamic simulation and numerical analysis of the floating wind turbine and
of the wind turbine and (iii) FAST, an aerodynamic concluded that this design concept is feasible for
software package for wind turbine analysis with the implementation in future.
ability to be coupled to the hydrodynamic model. In Iijima et al. (2010) described their numerical
the third part, Aubault et al. (2009) discussed the procedure for the fully coupled aerodynamic and
structural assessment of a column-stabilised floating hydroelastic time-domain analysis of an offshore
foundation. They focused on the methodology for floating wind turbine system including rotor blade
estimating the strength and fatigue of the structural dynamics, dynamic motions and flexible deflections of
components. They assumed that structural loading on the structural system. Their floater concept comprised
the underwater elements of the platform, such as the two parallel longitudinal box girders connected at
columns and the water entrapment plates is mostly forward and aft ends as well as amidships by transverse
dependent on wave loading. They concluded that the box girders. Two turbine towers are mounted on the
truss bracing members or the interface between the floater, one at each end. The dynamic coupling
wind turbine tower and the columns must be analysed between the rotating blades and the structural system
due to the importance of aerodynamic loading on their under wind and wave loads was taken into account.
design. The results were compared with the uncoupled cases
(wind only or waves only) to investigate the coupling
effects in terms of structural stress response as well as
6. Research into pontoon-type floating wind turbine motion response. Interestingly, Iijima et al.’s paper
Based on the buoyancy stabilised concept, NREL and mentioned a certain gyroscopic effect due to yaw
MIT collaborated in a pontoon-type (or barge-type) motion that is not yet fully understood.
floating wind turbine. The pontoon-type is adopted
because of its simplicity in design, fabrication and
installation. Jonkman and Buhl (2007) presented fully 7. Research into other forms of floating wind turbine
coupled aero-hydro-servo-elastic simulation tools for a Dumpleton (1985) carried out tests on a ship-mounted
preliminary loads analysis of a 5 MW pontoon-type inclined axis wind turbine (IAWT) with single blade
The IES Journal Part A: Civil & Structural Engineering 275

rotor with the ship on a swinging mooring. The tests The concept utilises a cylindrical foundation rotating
highlighted several technical challenges at the time and in the water. The 2D Navier–Stokes solver EllipSys2D
the conceived conceptual idea of using a ship-shaped was used to investigate the interaction between the
hull form with IAWT has not been observed in current rotating foundation and a water flow stream passing
literature. the turbine. The novel concept has peculiar features
Sclavounos et al. (2008) presented a coupled such as a two-bladed Darrieus rotor, a tower that
dynamic analysis of floating wind turbines that enables extends underwater that also functions as a spar buoy
a parametric design study of floating wind turbine and a submerged generator at the tower bottom.
concepts and mooring systems. Pareto optimal designs Ronold et al. (2010) emphasised on the importance
are presented that has a favourable combination of of developing standards for the design of floating wind
nacelle acceleration, mooring system tension and turbine structures. They described how Det Norske
displacement of the floating structure supporting a Veritas was in the process of updating their offshore
5 MW wind turbine. All concepts are selected so that standard, DNV-OS-J101, ‘Design of Offshore Wind
they float stably while in tow to the offshore wind farm Turbine Structures’ to cover floating wind turbine
site and prior to their connection to the mooring system. structures. A DNV Guideline for Offshore Floating
A fully coupled dynamic analysis is carried out on the Wind Turbines has been established, as mentioned in
wind turbine, floater and mooring system in wind and a their paper. Their paper presented the highlights of the
sea state based on standard computer programs used by new DNV Guideline for Offshore Floating Wind
the offshore and wind industries. They found that Pareto Turbine Structures.
optimal structures are generally either a narrow deep
drafted spar, or a shallow drafted barge ballasted with
concrete. The mooring systems include both tension leg 8. Concluding remarks and recommendations for
and catenary mooring systems. future work
Manabe et al. (2008) presented the development of Wind power is one of the fastest growing energy
the floating structure for the Very Large Mobile technologies and it appears that it will become a major
Offshore Structure (VLMOS) sailing-type wind farm. generator of electricity worldwide. Floating wind
The paper was fundamentally a feasibility study on the farms located far out in the deep sea will draw on
subject floating wind farm concept which added more wind power than land-based wind farms in the
credence to the viability and possible realisation of near future.
the concept. Interestingly, the structural design of the Recommendations for future work include:
VLMOS sailing offshore wind farm was based on
hydroelastic response analysis which is evidence of . Owing to lack of operational experience, semi-
Japanese researchers’ efforts to tap on VLFSs to realise empirical structural design requirements may be
floating wind farms. inadequate and a first principle approach to the
Kourogi et al. (2008, 2009) carried out resistance design methodology should be sought.
tests and oblique towing tank tests with a 1/100 scale . Development of design criteria, offshore stan-
model of the (VLMOS) sailing-type floating wind dards and recommended practices for the float-
farm (see Figure 7) in order to improve the ing offshore wind turbines.
navigation simulation and to investigate the interac- . Where semi-empirical rules in the petro-
tion among the many wind shaped struts or between leum industry offshore standards and recom-
the lower semi-submersible hull and struts. They also mended practices are referred to in design, these
carried out experiments to evaluate seakeeping should be supplemented by dynamic assessment
performance. tools.
Tsujimoto et al. (2009) developed an algorithm for . A feasibility study on a commercial, utility
the optimal routing of a VLMOS sailing-type wind farm. scale floating wind farm should be undertaken,
The logic code was developed to search for optimal factoring in technical and economic aspects of
routes within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of implementation using current cost estimates as
Japan to maximise the acquired wind energy of the well as future, reduced cost estimates to predict
sailing-type wind farm. The navigational simulations lead time for technology to mature to industry
predicted that a sailing type wind farm would require level.
more wind energy compared to a stationary wind farm. . Economical design of floating wind turbine
The efficiency of the optimised routes was also system (presently the floating wind turbine
evaluated. system is rather expensive). Try to envision cost
Vita et al. (2010) put forward a new concept for reduction measures by standardisation and mass
deep sea offshore vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs). production.
276 C.M. Wang et al.

. Establish cost-effective infrastructures for tow- Ishihara, T., Phuc, P.V., and Sukegawa, H., 2007a.
ing, installation and maintenance of large scale Numerical study on the dynamic response of a floating
offshore wind turbine system due to resonance and
floating offshore wind farms to avoid bottlenecks nonlinear wave. Proceedings of 2nd EOW, Berlin,
when commercial scale projects can finally be Germany, December 4–6, 2007.
implemented viably. Ishihara, T., Phuc, P.V., and Sukegawa, H., 2008. A
. Develop power transmission and interconnection numerical model for prediction of the dynamic responses
systems suitable for large scale floating offshore of floater with elastic deformations. Proceedings of 30th
Symposium on Wind Energy Utilization, Japan, Japan
wind farms consisting of multiple floaters. Wind Energy Association, 221–224. (in Japanese).
. Environmental impact assessment of floating Ishihara, T., et al., 2007b. A study on the dynamic response
wind turbines with respect to the ecosystem. of a semi-submersible floating offshore wind turbine
. Investigate present trends in maritime laws, rules system Part 1: a water tank test. Proceedings of the 12th
and regulations related to the implementation of International Conference on Wind Engineering, Cairns,
offshore floating wind power farms and identify Ishihara, T., Waris, M.B., and Sukegawa, H., 2009. A study
legal key issues. on influence of heave plate on dynamic response of
floating offshore wind turbine system. Proceedings of 3rd
European Offshore Wind Conference and Exhibition,
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