The fatigue assessment of support structures is one of the most significant challenges in the design of offshore wind turbines (OWT). Fatigue analysis can be conducted in either the time-domain or the frequency-domain. The advantage of frequency-domain analysis is its time efficiency. This paper shows how the frequency domain method can be used to dimension lattice-type OWT towers such that they meet the fatigue criteria in the preliminary design stage. Two types of lattice towers, a three-legged and four-legged version, were redesigned in the fatigue limit state for the NREL 5 MW baseline wind turbine sited at a water depth of 35 m. The wall thickness of the members was chosen as the only variable and varied during the design process until the towers could survive for at least 20 years. In comparison with designs based upon ultimate strength, the mass of both types of towers increased no more than 30% when the fatigue limit state was considered. It is concluded that the lattice type structure requires only half as much material as its tubular counterpart. The three-legged tower is promising because of its simple geometry, even though it displayed a lower torsional stiffness than the four-legged tower. All the analyses in this paper were performed by an in-house FE code, intended for the early design stage of lattice towers. Once the optimum configuration is found in the early design stage, integrated time-domain analyses for the entire OWT system might be required to refine the design, taking all the nonlinear parameters into account.

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