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Department of Energy Announces $26 Million for Offshore Wind Energy

ARPA-E Projects to Develop Innovative Floating Offshore Wind Turbines

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy today announced $26 million in funding for 13 projects as part of the Aerodynamic Turbines, Lighter and Afloat, with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-control (ATLANTIS) program. These teams will develop new technologies for floating, offshore wind turbines (FOWTs) using the discipline of control co-design (CCD).

The ATLANTIS program focuses on three technology development areas to develop FOWT systems: 1) New Designs, 2) Computer Tools, and 3) Experiments. The selections contained within the ATLANTIS program fall into at least one of these three areas, and teams are encouraged to collaborate with other awardees over the lifecycle of their funding to work towards designing a fully integrated FOWT incorporating all three areas into one system.

Existing floating systems are designed to replicate traditional offshore structures, with large floating platforms designed with a focus to maintain stability and survive storms. These ATLANTIS projects will apply new designs that eliminate the need for such large platform structures, developing CCD technologies that substitute platform mass for integrated feedback control systems and maximized rotor area to maintain and increase the stability of the turbines themselves, without the need for a large platform design.

Accessible offshore wind is estimated at more than 25 quadrillion BTU’s per year, with more than half of that generation blowing across water too deep to be economically accessible with current offshore wind turbine design. The FOWT designs in these ATLANTIS projects could enable access to those unutilized wind resources, enabling greater production and market share access in offshore wind energy. 

A sampling of ATLANTIS projects can be found below; for the full list of projects click here.

The University of Texas at Dallas – Richardson, TX

A Low-Cost Floating Offshore Vertical Axis Wind System – $3,000,000

The University of Texas at Dallas (UT-Dallas) team plans to develop a floating turbine design featuring a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT). The design will exploit inherent VAWT characteristics favorable to deep water environments and use a control co-design approach to overcome common challenges. VAWTs offer advantages over traditional offshore wind designs because they have a lower vertical center of gravity and center of pressure; require a smaller, less expensive floating platform; and have the potential to reduce operations and maintenance costs due to platform-level access to the drivetrain. The UT-Dallas team will design a system based on a hierarchical control co-design (H-CCD) framework tailored to the floating VAWT system design. Their design framework includes aero-elastic tailoring of the rotor to reduce parked and operating loads, coordination of active on-blade flow control with rotor speed control to reduce torque variability, a lightweight and stable platform design, and a modular drivetrain.

Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey – Piscataway, NJ

Computationally Efficient Atmospheric-Data-Driven Control Co-Design Optimization Framework with Mixed-Fidelity Fluid and Structure Analysis – $1,356,872

Rutgers University will develop a computationally efficient, atmospheric-data-driven, control co-design optimization software framework for floating offshore wind turbine design. They will focus on developing a modular computational framework for the modeling, optimization, and control of primary structures coupled to the surrounding air, water, and actuator dynamics. Their framework will integrate traditional aeroelastic models with higher fidelity simulation tools. This project will yield a modular and open-source framework that will be available to the other Phase 1 teams to support the broad mission of the ATLANTIS Program.