According to a long article in Wind Systems magazine, a team of researchers that includes two engineers from UMass Amherst is developing a new mooring system for floating offshore wind turbines that uses an integrated network of anchors and lines to hold dozens or even hundreds of turbines in place in the ocean in industrial-scale, offshore wind farms. See UMass News Office release. See Renewable Engergy News article.
Sanjay R. Arwade and Don J. DeGroot from the UMass Amherst Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, along with Charles P. Aubeny from Texas A&M University and Melissa Landon of the University of Maine, are conducting the research with a three-year, $497,341 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
According to the Wind Systems article, the research team is working with Vryhof Anchors, an international industrial partner that is a world leader in producing offshore anchoring systems, including the one used by the world’s first floating offshore wind turbine in Norway.
The article noted that the principal goal of the research is to develop offshore floating wind farms where the individual floating wind turbines are moored using a networked series of anchors and cables that hold the entire wind farm in place. Currently, each floating wind turbine has its own individual anchoring system. The proposed networked system would save money and require fewer anchors and geotechnical site investigations, according to the researchers.
“This project is an exciting opportunity to bring together structural dynamics and geotechnical engineering in new ways to support national renewable energy goals by potentially lowering capital costs associated with offshore wind development,” Arwade said.
In order to accomplish this goal, the researchers will have to evaluate the feasibility and design implications of highly variable soil conditions on the ocean floor for securing the anchors, the layout of the wind farms, and the complicated dynamics that cause loads on the anchors. The scientists will also develop wind and wave models for the best placement and orientation of the wind farms.
The Wind Systems story said it is expected that this project may hasten progress toward the goal of generating 20 percent of U.S. energy needs from wind power by potentially reducing the cost of building offshore wind farms by a significant margin. (April 2016)