Wind energy is a promising alternate energy resource. However, the on-land wind farms are limited by space, noise, and visual pollution, and therefore many countries build wind farms near shore. Up to now, most of offshore wind farms have been built in relatively shallow water (less than 30m) with fixed tower type wind turbines. Recently, several countries plan to move wind farms to deep water offshore locations to find stronger and steadier wind fields as compared to near shore locations. For the wind farms in deeper water, floating platforms have been proposed to support the wind turbine.

The model tests described in this paper were performed at MARIN (Maritime Research Institute Netherlands) with a model set-up corresponding to a 1:50 Froude scaling. The wind turbine was a scaled model of the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) 5MW, horizontal axis reference wind turbine supported by three different generic floating platforms: a spar, a semi-submersible and a tension-leg platform (TLP). The wave environment used in the tests is representative of the offshore in the state of Maine. In order to capture coupling between the floating platform and the wind turbine, the 1st bending mode of the turbine tower was also modeled.

The main purpose of the model tests was to generate data on coupled motions and loads between the three floating platforms and the same wind turbine for the operational, design, and survival seas states. The data are to be used for calibration and improvement of existing design analysis and performance numerical codes. An additional objective of the model tests was to establish advantages and disadvantages among the three floating platform concepts on the basis of test data.

The paper gives details of the scaled model wind turbine and floating platforms, the set-up configurations, and the instrumentation to measure motions, accelerations and loads as well as wind turbine rpm, torque and thrust for the three floating wind turbines. The data and data analysis results are the subject of another paper in this conference [1].

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