A new floating wind turbine platform design called VolturnUS developed by the University of Maine uses innovations in materials, construction, and deployment technologies such as a concrete semi-submersible hull and a composite tower to reduce the costs of offshore wind. These novel characteristics require research and development prior to full-scale construction. This paper presents a unique offshore model testing effort aimed at de-risking full-scale commercial projects by providing properly scaled global motion data, allowing for implementation of full-scale structural materials, and demonstrating full-scale construction and deployment methods. The model is a 1:8-scale model of a 6MW semi-submersible floating wind turbine and was deployed offshore Castine, Maine, USA in June, 2013. The model uses a fully operational turbine and was the first grid connected offshore wind turbine in the Americas.
The testing effort includes careful treatment of the offshore test site, scaling methods, model design, and construction. A suitable test site was identified that provides the correct proportions of wind and wave loading in order to simulate design load cases prescribed by the American Bureau of Shipping Standard for Building and Classing Floating Offshore Wind Turbines.
Sample model test data is provided. Model test data is directly compared to full-scale design predictions made using coupled aeroelastic/ hydrodynamic software. VolturnUS performance data from scaled extreme sea states show excellent agreement with predictive models. Model test data are also compared to a numerical representation of the physical model for the purposes of numerical code validation. The numerical model results compare very favorably with data collected from the physical model.