offshore wind, jacket substructure, mass sensitivity to environmental variable, balance of system, cost analysis


Challenging bathymetry and soil conditions of future U.S. offshore wind power plants might promote the use of multimember, fixed-bottom structures (or “jackets”) in place of monopiles. Support structures affect costs associated with the balance of system (BOS) and operation and maintenance. Understanding the link between these costs and the main environmental design drivers is crucial in the quest for a lower levelized cost of energy (LCOE), and it is the main rationale for this work. Actual cost and engineering data are still scarce; hence, we evaluated a simplified engineering approach to tie key site and turbine parameters (e.g., water depth, wave height, tower-head mass, hub height, generator rating) to the overall support weight. A jacket-and-tower sizing tool, part of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) system engineering software suite, was utilized to achieve mass-optimized support structures for 81 different configurations. This tool set provides preliminary sizing of all jacket components. Results showed reasonable agreement with the available industry data, and that the jacket mass is mainly driven by water depth, but hub height and tower-head mass become more influential at greater turbine ratings. A larger sensitivity of the structural mass to wave height and target eigenfrequency was observed for the deepest water conditions (> 40 m). Thus, techno-economic analyses using this model should be based on accurate estimates of actual metocean conditions and turbine parameters especially for deep waters. The relationships derived from this study will inform NREL’s offshore BOS cost model, and they will be used to evaluate the impact of changes in technology on offshore wind LCOE.

Original Publication Citation

Damiani, R., Ning, A., Maples, B., Smith, A., and Dykes, K., “Scenario Analysis for Techno-Economic Model Development of U.S. Offshore Wind Support Structures,” Wind Energy, Sep. 2016. doi:10.1002/we.2021

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology


Mechanical Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor