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Offshore Wind Turbine Research

Photo of a European offshore wind farm.

Photo by Siemens

For more than eight years, NREL has worked with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to become an international leader in offshore wind energy research. NREL's offshore wind turbine research capabilities focus on critical areas that reflect the long-term needs of the industry and DOE. National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) researchers are perpetually exploring new wind and water power concepts, materials, and components as well as how those innovations perform and affect the energy system as a whole.

Capabilities
Facilities
Projects
Contact

Capabilities

Design methods, tools, and standards: Offshore wind turbine tests run by NREL's experienced testing staff include certification compliance to the latest IEC standards for power performance, load measurement, acoustic emissions, and power quality.

Energy analysis: NREL's study and documentation of offshore wind energy in the United States provides the wind industry with a foundation from which to build a national strategy for offshore wind energy development.

Grid integration: Experts conduct in-depth studies of the impacts of and needs for integrating offshore wind into the nation's land-based utility grid.

Resource characterization, forecasting, and maps: NWTC scientists and engineers are leading efforts in resource mapping, remote sensor measurement and development, and forecasting that are essential for the development of offshore wind.

Technology development: Applying 35 years of wind turbine testing expertise, NREL has developed instrumentation for high resolution measurements at sea and maintains offshore-trained test engineers and technicians to verify turbine performance and dynamic responses.

Wind plant modeling and simulation: NREL has developed and maintains a robust open-source modeling tool, FAST, that is capable of simulating a wide range of offshore wind systems and operating conditions.

Facilities

A straight on view of eight offshore wind turbines with blades at varying angles.

Photo by Siemens

Dynamometer test facilities: NREL's 5-MW dynamometer offers wind industry engineers a unique opportunity to test the larger gearboxes currently being designed for offshore applications in a laboratory environment.

Structural test facilities: The Structural Testing Laboratory at the NWTC is equipped with a 50-m test stand capable of assessing the longer blades designed for offshore wind systems.

Field test sites: Winds at the NWTC location can reach hurricane force speeds, ideal for testing the limits of offshore wind turbines before installation off the coast. Wind turbine manufacturers can take advantage of the NWTC's field test sites to analyze turbine performance.

Partner facilities: Our partner centers offer additional testing opportunities. The Wind Technology Testing Center in Massachusetts can test blades up to 90 m in length and the SCE&G Innovation Center and Clemson University allows businesses to test drivetrains with capacity ratings up to 15 MW.

Projects

Standards: An NREL report introduces the pertinent international and domestic offshore design standards, discusses their applicability and shortcomings for the nation's offshore wind development, and provides a snapshot of industry and government efforts underway to develop guidelines for U.S. offshore wind.

Offshore Wind Technology Demonstration Projects: NREL provides economic analysis, modeling, and test plan development support for the advancement of DOE's Offshore Wind Technology Demonstration Projects.

SWAY: NREL teamed up with SWAY, a renewable energy company from Norway. The project provides NREL with a unique opportunity to study one of the world's first floating wind turbines to be deployed and enhances SWAY's data collection program.

Contact

Walt Musial