Hybrid Testing Facilities Help Improve Offshore Wind

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Three Hybrid Testing Facilities Funded by DOE to Improve Offshore Wind Energy Systems

Lehigh University, Clemson University, and Oregon State University have developed new hybrid testing capabilities for offshore wind energy systems using a robotic arm, soil box, and grid simulator. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office funded these facilities to test offshore wind energy components in a laboratory setting due to the difficulties and expenses of full-scale physical testing on-site. These facilities provide a way to simulate real-life situations and will contribute to the early evaluation of design concepts for offshore wind energy technologies.

According to Monica Maher, an offshore wind energy specialist at WETO, the goal of funding these facilities is to establish a nationwide capability for testing offshore wind energy technologies. This, in turn, can aid in achieving the United States’ national goal of generating 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 and instilling greater confidence in the industry’s use of offshore wind energy systems. Hybrid testing, made possible by these facilities, allows for a combination of physical field tests and computerized simulations to obtain the most comprehensive and dependable data on offshore wind energy systems.

According to Monica Maher, WETO offshore wind energy specialist, the hybrid testing capabilities of the facilities at Lehigh University, Clemson University, and Oregon State University allow for a wide range of scenarios to be tested in a short time, including extreme storms and abnormal conditions that may not occur during long field-testing campaigns. The WETO-funded upgrades to these hybrid test facilities will help address unique offshore challenges in the United States and improve the reliability of offshore wind systems. These facilities, awarded through a 2019 funding opportunity announcement, enable researchers to test physical component designs under various wind and wave conditions, including the simulation of unique wind speeds based on specific events of interest or certain offshore locations.

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