The Influence of the Joint Wind-Wave Environment on Offshore Wind Turbine Support Structure Loads

Agarwal, P., Manuel, L.


Our objective here is to establish long-term loads for offshore wind turbines using a probabilistic approach.  This can enable one to estimate design loads for a prescribed level of return period, generally on the order of 20-50 years for offshore wind turbines.  In a probabilistic approach, one first needs to establish “short-term” distributions of the load random variable(s) conditional on the environment; this is achieved either by using simulation or field measurements.  In the present study, we use field data from the Blyth offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom, where a 2MW wind turbine was instrumented, and environment and load data were recorded.  The characteristics of the environment and, hence, that of the turbine response at the site are strikingly different for wind regimes associated with different wind directions.  Here, we study the influence of such contrasting environmental (wind) regimes and associated waves on long-term design loads.  The field data, available as summary statistics, are limited in the sense that not all combinations of environmental conditions likely to be experienced by the turbine over its service life are represented in the measurements.  Using the available data, we show how distributions for random variables describing the environment (i.e., wind and waves) and the turbine load of interest (i.e., the mudline bending moment) can be established.  By integrating load distributions conditional on the environment with the relative likelihood of different environmental conditions, long-term (extreme/ultimate) loads associated with specified return periods can be derived.  This is demonstrated here by carefully separating out the data in different wind direction sectors that reflect contrasting wind (and accompanying wave) characteristics in the ocean environment.  Since the field data are limited, the derived long-term design loads have inherent uncertainty associated with them; we investigate this uncertainty in such derived loads using bootstrap techniques.


Agarwal, P. and Manuel, L., “The Influence of the Joint Wind-Wave Environment on Offshore Wind Turbine Support Structure Loads,” ASME Journal of Solar Energy Engineering, Vol 130, No. 3, Aug 2008.