In 2011 the DeepCwind Consortium, led by the University of Maine (UMaine), performed an extensive series of floating wind turbine model tests at the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) offshore basin. These tests, which were conducted at 1/50th scale, investigated the response of three floating wind turbine concepts subjected to simultaneous wind and wave environments. The wind turbine blades utilized for the tests were geometrically-similar models of those found on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) 5 MW reference wind turbine and performed poorly in the Froude-scaled, low-Reynolds number wind environment. As such, the primary aerodynamic load produced by the wind turbine, thrust, was drastically lower than expected for a given Froude-scaled wind speed. In order to obtain appropriate mean thrust forces for conducting the global performance testing of the floating wind turbines, the winds speeds were substantially raised beyond the target Froude-scale values. While this correction yielded the desired mean thrust load, the sensitivities of the thrust force due to changes in the turbine inflow wind speed, whether due to wind gusts or platform motion, were not necessarily representative of the full-scale system.

In hopes of rectifying the wind turbine performance issue for Froude-scale wind/wave basin testing, efforts have been made by UMaine, Maine Maritime Academy and MARIN to design performance-matched wind turbines that produce the correct thrust forces when subjected to Froude-scale wind environments. In this paper, an improved, performance-matched wind turbine is mounted to the DeepCwind semi-submersible platform investigated in 2011 (also studied in the International Energy Association’s OC4 Phase II Project) and retested in MARIN’s offshore basin with two major objectives: 1) To demonstrate that the corrective wind speed adjustments made in the earlier DeepCwind tests produced realistic global performance behaviors and 2) To illustrate the increased capability for simulating full-scale floating wind turbine responses that a performance-matched turbine has over the earlier, geometrically-similar design tested. As an example of this last point, this paper presents select results for coupled wind/wave tests with active blade pitch control made possible with the use of a performance-matched wind turbine. The results of this paper show that the earlier DeepCwind tests produced meaningful data; however, this paper also illustrates the immense potential of using a performance-matched wind turbine in wind/wave basin model tests for floating wind turbines.

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