In the last decade the wind energy industry has developed rapidly in China, especially offshore. For a water depth less than 20m, monopile and multi-pile substructures (tripod, pentapod) are applied widely in offshore wind farms. Some wind farms in China are located in high seismicity regions, thus, the earthquake load may become the dominant load for offshore wind turbines.

This paper deals with the seismic behavior of an offshore wind turbine (OWT) consisting of the NREL 5MW baseline wind turbine, a pentapod substructure and a pile foundation of a real offshore wind turbine in China. A test model of the OWT is designed based on the hydro-elastic similarity. Test cases of different load combinations are performed with the environmental conditions generated by the Joint Earthquake, Wave and Current Simulation System and the Simple Wind Field Generation System at Dalian University of Technology, China, in order to investigate the structural dynamic responses under different load conditions. In the tests, a circular disk is used to model the rotor-nacelle system, and a force gauge is fixed at the center of the disk to measure the wind forces during the tests. A series of accelerometers are arranged along the model tower and the pentapod piles, and strain gauges glued on the substructure members are intended to measure the structural dynamic responses. A finite element model of the complete wind turbine is also established in order to compare the theoretical results with the test data.

The hydro-elastic similarity is validated based on the comparison of the measured dynamic characteristics and the results of the prototype modal analysis. The numerical results agree well with the experimental data. Based on the comparisons of the results, the effect of the wind and sea loads on the structural responses subjected to seismic is demonstrated, especially the influence on the global response of the structure. It is seen that the effect of the combined seismic, wind, wave and current load conditions can not be simply superimposed. Hence the interaction effect in the seismic analysis should be considered when the wind, wave and current loads have a non-negligible effect.

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