During the shutdown of a wind turbine, the turbine blades rotate from their typical operating angle to their typical idling angle (approximately 90 degrees) at a specific speed, called the blade pitch rate. This operation leads to rapid loss of thrust force on the turbine resulting in a corresponding heel response of the floating structure. This rapid variation of loads at the turbine also leads to large nacelle accelerations which are transferred to the bottom of the tower and consequently to the floating structure, making the turbine shutdowns, and specifically emergency shutdowns, of significance in the design and certification of the turbine, tower and floating structure.
In case of an emergency shutdown (for instance due to a grid loss), the blades typically pitch from 0 degree to 90 degrees in approximately 20–35 seconds, whereas this time period can be more than 100 seconds in the case of a normal shutdown . For fixed-bottom wind turbines, increasing the blade pitch rate leads to an increase of instantaneous loads at the nacelle and tower, leading to the emergency shutdown pitch rate being usually chosen to be as low as possible. In the case of a floating wind turbine, however, water/platform interaction effects such as wave induced damping on the floating platform, challenge this approach. Indeed, increasing the blade pitch rate can increase the effect of wave-induced damping on the floater and therefore reduce the loads on the overall structure. On the other hand, reducing the blade pitch rate during an emergency shutdown can reduce this damping effect and increase those loads, meaning that an optimal blade pitch rate for a fixed bottom turbine is not necessarily optimal for a floating wind turbine.
This paper will examine the behavior of a floating offshore semi-submersible platform, the WindFloat, during turbine shutdown operations, with an emphasis on the blade pitch rate during an emergency shutdown.