The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Variability of breaking wave characteristics and impact loads on offshore wind turbines supported by monopiles

TitleVariability of breaking wave characteristics and impact loads on offshore wind turbines supported by monopiles
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsHallowell S, Myers AT, Arwade SR
JournalWind Energy
Start Page301
Date Published02/2015

Most existing and planned offshore wind turbines (OWTs) are located in shallow water where the possibility of breaking waves impacting the structure may influence design. Breaking waves and their associated impact loads are challenging to model because the breaking process is a strongly non-linear phenomenon with significant statistical scattering. Given the challenges and uncertainty in modeling breaking waves, there is a need for comparing existing models with simultaneous environmental and structural measurements taken from utility-scale OWTs exposed to breaking waves. Overall, such measurements are lacking; however, one exception is the Offshore Wind Turbines at Exposed Sites project, which recorded sea state conditions and associated structural loads for a 2.0 MW OWT supported by a monopile and located at the Blyth wind farm off the coast of England. Measurements were recorded over a 17 month campaign between 2001 and 2003, a period that included a storm that exposed the instrumented OWT to dozens of breaking waves. This paper uses the measurements from this campaign to categorize and identify breaking waves and quantify the variability of their impact loads. For this particular site and turbine, the distribution of measured mudline moments due to breaking waves has a mean of 8.7 MN-m, a coefficient of variation of 26% and a maximum of 14.9 MN-m. The accuracy of several breaking wave limits and impact force models is compared with the measurements, and the impact force models are shown to represent the measurements with varying accuracy and to be sensitive to modeling assumptions.