Onshore and shallow-water offshore wind energy has become cost-competitive with traditional fossil-fuel energy sources making wind a viable energy production method that also reduces greenhouse emissions. However, wind farms often cannot be located near many coastal regions where energy usage is high due to deep waters near the shore. When the water depth is more than 60 meters, the cost to install a traditional fixed foundation becomes prohibitive, limiting the use of wind energy in many high-population zones, including most of the west coast of the United States.
Floating offshore wind turbines (FOWTs) are a new enabling technology that promises to reduce deep-water installation costs by using a buoyant platform instead of the traditional fixed-base offshore turbine foundation. However, the technology is not yet cost-effective because the turbine and floating foundation are designed separately. This proposal brings together revolutionary aerodynamics and structural design tools to consider the FOWT as a complete system and create a turbine that has lower overall weight, reduced mechanical loads, and lower buoyancy requirements than existing FOWT designs. Cost analyses and real-world experimental testing of the new designs aim to make FOWTs commercially viable in the near term.