Design and Modeling of an Open-Source Baseline Floating Marine Turbine: Preprint

Will Wiley, Hannah Ross, Athul Krishna Sundarrajan, Thanh Toan Tran

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Marine energy resources such as river, tidal, and ocean currents can provide abundant, predictable, and clean power to both densely populated and remote communities globally. However, marine turbine technologies are still in an early stage of development. Recently, features have been added to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's open-source wind turbine modeling tool OpenFAST to support the simulation of axial-flow marine turbines. These new features enable marine energy developers to predict the performance and safety of their turbines and allow researchers and students to advance the field through the exploration of novel designs. Developing and demonstrating the new capabilities of OpenFAST for marine turbines requires a baseline design that can be used as an example and test case. There are limited open-source turbine models suitable for this purpose. One existing baseline design is the Reference Model 1 (RM1), a fixed-bottom, dual-rotor marine turbine that was published in 2014 as part of the Department of Energy's Water Power Reference Model Project. To test and demonstrate OpenFAST's ability to model floating marine turbines, several modifications were made to the RM1. A floating platform and mooring system were designed to support a single RM1 rotor in a wide range of possible current and wave conditions. The system and model are intended to be a stable reference case and starting point for research efforts. The platform features all cylindrical members and familiar design elements from the offshore wind industry; the mooring system uses simple catenary chains. While not optimized for the lowest platform cost, the design is understandable and robust and can serve as a baseline for floating marine turbine technologies. This is a useful starting point for studies to explore new technologies or design methodologies. Additionally, the floating RM1 design enables cross-collaboration among industry, academia, and national lab researchers and serves as an educational platform for newcomers to marine energy. This short paper presents the specifications of the turbine, including its floating support structure and mooring system. The rationale behind the selection of certain design parameters is described. To enable adoption of this baseline case for research and educational efforts, an OpenFAST model of the full system has been made publicly available at
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2023
EventUMERC 23 - Durham, New Hampshire
Duration: 4 Oct 20236 Oct 2023


ConferenceUMERC 23
CityDurham, New Hampshire

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5700-87249


  • floating
  • marine turbine
  • OpenFAST
  • reference model


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