Offshore wind turbines are poised to become a vital part of the global energy landscape — particularly the floating types which give access to a much greater wind power resource. The design possibilities for floating turbines are so different from onshore and offshore fixed-bottom turbines, that a cost-reducing re-imagining may be justified. Apart from the expense of an offshore transmission cable and substation, the costs of hardware for offshore bottom-fixed wind turbines (CAPEX) are roughly twice as much as for onshore. Much of the extra cost can be attributed to the mass of the above- and underwater support and expensive installation. In this paper, we reconsider two aspects of present-day offshore turbines: (a) maintaining a land-turbine architecture (a slender tower with the rotor cantilevered from a yawing, equipment-filled nacelle); (b) seeking to minimize wave-induced motion and loads of the above-water plant. Our aim is an offshore floating design that is potentially less expensive than offshore fixed-bottom units. We outline the preliminary structural analyses that underlie a design focused on weight, cost reduction, and ease of manufacturing. This includes lattice towers, tubular hub and axle, and needle-roller bearings. The biggest concerns about the proposed lightweight system involve motions and forces induced by waves. Shallow-draft floats will follow the waves, leading to greater rotor translation and precession; and lattice towers may be subject to impact loads, ice buildup, and fouling. We present analysis of some of these motions and forces, along with resulting estimates for required structural weight as a preliminary investigation into the feasibility of this lightweight concept.

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