Reliability analysis of a spar buoy-supported floating offshore wind turbine
While wind energy has witnessed faster growth than any other renewable energy source in recent years, two issues—the decreasing availability of large land expanses for new wind farms and transmission difficulties arising from siting wind farms in remote regions far from load centers—have slowed down this growth considerably. Siting wind turbines offshore places the generating capacity closer to population and load centers; thus, reducing grid congestion. Also, at offshore sites, one can expect higher wind speeds, decreased turbulence, and reduced noise and visual impact constraints. Offshore wind turbines that have been built thus far have had foundations (such as monopiles or jacket structures) that have extended to the seabed. Such offshore wind turbines have thus been confined to shallow waters closer to the shore. Sites farther offshore provide better wind resources (i.e., less turbulence and smoother, stronger winds) while also reducing visual impact, noise, etc. However, deeper waters encountered at such sites make bottom-supported turbines less economical. Wind turbines mounted atop floating platforms are, thus, being considered for deeper water offshore sites. Various floating platform concepts are under consideration; the chief differences among them arise from the way they provide stability to counter the large mass of the rotor-nacelle assembly located high above the mean water level. Of these alternative concepts, the spar buoy platform is a deep draft structure with a low center of gravity, below the center of buoyancy. Reliability analysis of a spar buoy-supported floating offshore 5MW wind turbine based on stochastic simulation is the subject of this study. Environmental data from a selected deepwater reference site are employed in the numerical studies. Using time-domain simulations, the dynamic behavior of the coupled platform-turbine system is studied; statistics of tower and rotor loads as well as platform motions are estimated and critical combinations of wind speed and wave height identified.