Model testing of offshore structures has been standard practice over the years and is often recommended in guidelines and required in certification rules. The standard objectives for model testing are final concept verification, where it is recommended to model the system as closely as possible, and numerical code calibration.
Model testing of floating offshore wind turbines is complex due to the response depending on the aero-hydro-servo-elastic system, but also due to difficulties to perform model tests in a hydrodynamic facility with correctly scaled hydrodynamic, aerodynamic and inertial loads. The main limitations are due to the Froude-Reynolds scaling incompatibility, and the wind generation. An approach to solve these issues is by use of hybrid testing where the system is divided in a numerical and a physical substructure, interacting in real-time with each other. Depending on the objectives of the model tests, parts of a physical model of a FOWT can then be placed in a wind tunnel or an ocean basin, where the rest of the system is simulated.
In the EU H2020 LIFES50+ project, hybrid model tests were performed in the wind tunnel at Politecnico di Milano, as well as in the ocean basin at SINTEF Ocean. The model tests in the wind tunnel were performed with a physical wind turbine positioned on top of a 6DOF position-controlled actuator, while the hydrodynamic loads and the motions of the support structure were simulated in real-time. For the tests in the ocean basin, a physical floater with tower subject to waves and current was used, while the simulated rotor loads were applied on the model by use of a force actuation system. The tests in both facilities are compared and recommendations on how to combine testing methodologies in an optimal way are discussed.