For shallow and intermediate water depths, large monopile foundations are considered to be promising with respect to the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of offshore wind turbines. In order to reduce the LCOE by structural optimization and de-risk the resulting designs, the hydrodynamic loads must be computed efficiently and accurately. Three efficient methods for computing hydrodynamic loads are considered here: Morison’s equation with 1) undisturbed linear wave kinematics or 2) undisturbed second order Stokes wave kinematics, or 3) the MacCamy-Fuchs model, which is able to account for diffraction in short waves. Two reference turbines are considered in a simplified range of environmental conditions.

For fatigue limit state calculations, accounting for diffraction effects was found to generally increase the estimated lifetime of the structure, particularly the tower. The importance of diffraction depends on the environmental conditions and the structure. For the case study of the NREL 5 MW design, the effect could be up to 10 % for the tower base and 2 % for the monopile under the mudline.

The inclusion of second order wave kinematics did not have a large effect on the fatigue calculations, but had a significant impact on the structural loads in ultimate limit state conditions. For the NREL 5 MW design, a 30 % increase in the maximum bending moment under the mudline could be attributed to the second order wave kinematics; a 7 % increase was seen for the DTU 10 MW design.

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