By - Jim Vess

DOE to spend $28 million developing deep water offshore wind turbines

Energize Weekly, March 6, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy is funding a $28 million research program to tap an offshore wind resource—deep water—that has been technologically and economically out of reach.

The program run by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) is seeking to develop turbines and platforms “that maximize power to weight ratios while maintaining or increasing turbine efficiency.”

The new program is called Aerodynamic Turbines, Lighter and Afloat, with Nautical Technologies and Integrated Servo-Control or ATLANTIS

“Accessible U.S. offshore wind is estimated at more than 25 quads per year (a quad is one quadrillion BTUs, equivalent to 45 million tons of coal, 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, or 170 million barrels of crude oil),” an ATLANTIS briefing paper said. “Nearly 60 percent of that wind energy—the equivalent of the entire U.S. annual electricity consumption—blows across waters more than 200 feet deep, an area that cannot be economically accessed today.”

Within 200 feet of shore, wind turbines are anchored to the seafloor, beyond that boundary anchoring isn’t feasible, and floating offshore wind turbines (FOWTs) depend on floating platforms.

The FOWTs are large and heavy so as to replicate more familiar onshore wind turbine dynamics, maintain stability and survive storms. This makes them expensive to build.

“ATLANTIS projects will aim to develop new and potentially disruptive innovations in FOWT technology to enable a greater market share of offshore wind energy, ultimately strengthening and diversifying the array of domestic energy sources available to Americans,” according to the program.

The aim is to foster “radically new designs that do not require a massive floating platform,” the program’s briefing paper said.

To accomplish this, ATLANTIS is promoting the use of control co-design (CCD), which brings together interdisciplinary teams, in this case engineers and scientists, to solve problems at the start of the design process.

“The United States has 13,000 miles of shoreline, which is a huge opportunity to lead the world in capitalizing offshore wind,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said in a statement. “The ATLANTIS projects will help advance American offshore wind production and the accompanying job, manufacturing, and investment growth for the nation.”

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