Design of an offshore wind turbine requires estimation of loads on its rotor, tower and supporting structure. These loads are obtained by time-domain simulations of the coupled aero-servo-hydro-elastic model of the wind turbine. Accuracy of predicted loads depends on assumptions made in the simulation models employed, both for the turbine and for the input wind and wave conditions. Currently, waves are simulated using a linear irregular wave theory that is not appropriate for nonlinear waves, which are even more pronounced in shallow water depths where wind farms are typically sited. The present study investigates the use of irregular nonlinear (second-order) waves for estimating loads on the support structure (monopile) of an offshore wind turbine. We present the theory for the irregular nonlinear model and incorporate it in the commonly used wind turbine simulation software, FAST, which had been developed by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), but which had the modeling capability only for irregular linear waves. We use an efficient algorithm for computation of nonlinear wave elevation and kinematics, so that a large number of time-domain simulations, which are required for prediction of long-term loads using statistical extrapolation, can easily be performed. To illustrate the influence of the alternative wave models, we compute loads at the base of the monopile of the NREL 5MW baseline wind turbine model using linear and nonlinear irregular wave models. We show that for a given environmental condition (i.e., the mean wind speed and the significant wave height), extreme loads are larger when computed using the nonlinear wave model. We finally compute long-term loads, which are required for a design load case according to the International Electrotechnical Commission guidelines, using the inverse first-order reliability method. We discuss a convergence criterion that may be used to predict accurate 20-year loads and discuss wind versus wave dominance in the load prediction. We show that 20-year long-term loads can be significantly higher when the nonlinear wave model is used.
Agarwal, P. and Manuel, L., “Incorporating Irregular Nonlinear Waves in Coupled Simulation and Reliability Studies of Offshore Wind Turbines,” Applied Ocean Research, accepted, Vol. 33, Issue 3, pp. 215-227, Jul 2011.