A Digital Twin Solution for Floating Offshore Wind Turbines Validated Using a Full-Scale Prototype

Emmanuel Branlard, Jason Jonkman, Cameron Brown, Jiatian Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus Citations


In this work, we implement, verify, and validate a physics-based digital twin solution applied to a floating offshore wind turbine. The digital twin is validated using measurement data from the full-scale TetraSpar prototype. We focus on the estimation of the aerodynamic loads, wind speed, and section loads along the tower, with the aim of estimating the fatigue lifetime of the tower. Our digital twin solution integrates (1) a Kalman filter to estimate the structural states based on a linear model of the structure and measurements from the turbine, (2) an aerodynamic estimator, and (3) a physics-based virtual sensing procedure to obtain the loads along the tower. The digital twin relies on a set of measurements that are expected to be available on any existing wind turbine (power, pitch, rotor speed, and tower acceleration) and motion sensors that are likely to be standard measurements for a floating platform (inclinometers and GPS sensors). We explore two different pathways to obtain physics-based models: a suite of dedicated Python tools implemented as part of this work and the OpenFAST linearization feature. In our final version of the digital twin, we use components from both approaches. We perform different numerical experiments to verify the individual models of the digital twin. In this simulation realm, we obtain estimated damage equivalent loads of the tower fore-aft bending moment with an accuracy of approximately 5% to 10%. When comparing the digital twin estimations with the measurements from the TetraSpar prototype, the errors increased to 10%-15% on average. Overall, the accuracy of the results is promising and demonstrates the possibility of using digital twin solutions to estimate fatigue loads on floating offshore wind turbines. A natural continuation of this work would be to implement the monitoring and diagnostics aspect of the digital twin to inform operation and maintenance decisions. The digital twin solution is provided with examples as part of an open-source repository.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalWind Energy Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

See NREL/JA-5000-86309 for article as published in Wind Energy Science Discussions

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-89003


  • digital twin
  • floating offshore wind turbine


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