OpenFAST for Marine Energy Technologies

OpenFAST is an open-source tool to simulate marine turbine generation designs.

Three researchers looking at an enlarged computer screen featuring illustrations of two tidal energy devices.
NREL water power researchers (from left) Thanh Toan Tran, Hannah Ross, and Will Wiley are working with OpenFAST, an open-source tool that simulates marine energy devices to help developers understand how their devices might perform in open water. Image by Werner Slocum, NREL

OpenFAST on GitHub can be used by marine turbine developers, in addition to wind turbine developers, to simulate how much energy different versions of designs might generate. The tool has already been used by several marine energy developers to predict rotor loads, check results generated from commercial modeling tools, and better understand floating platform motions.

The OpenFAST team added features specific to turbine operation in water, including the ability to assess buoyant loads (the force a fluid exerts on a submerged object). It also generalized the tool to evaluate a wider range of fixed and floating marine turbines to make it easier and faster for developers to optimize their technologies.

NREL researchers are now working to develop a floating marine turbine reference model to serve as a baseline case for industry and an example for users interested in the new capabilities.


Hannah Ross

Mechanical Engineering Researcher