Modeling the TetraSpar Floating Offshore Wind Turbine Foundation as a Flexible Structure in OrcaFlex and OpenFAST

Jonas Berg Thomsen, Roger Bergua, Jason Jonkman, Amy Robertson, Nicole Mendoza, Cameron Brown, Christos Galinos, Henrik Stiesdal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus Citations


Floating offshore wind turbine technology has seen an increasing and continuous development in recent years. When designing the floating platforms, both experimental and numerical tools are applied, with the latter often using time-domain solvers based on hydro-load estimation from a Morison approach or a boundary element method. Commercial software packages such as OrcaFlex, or open-source software such as OpenFAST, are often used where the floater is modeled as a rigid six degree-of-freedom body with loads applied at the center of gravity. However, for final structural design, it is necessary to have information on the distribution of loads over the entire body and to know local internal loads in each component. This paper uses the TetraSpar floating offshore wind turbine design as a case study to examine new modeling approaches in OrcaFlex and OpenFAST that provide this information. The study proves the possibility of applying the approach and the extraction of internal loads, while also presenting an initial code-to-code verification between OrcaFlex and OpenFAST. As can be expected, comparing the flexible model to a rigid-body model proves how motion and loads are affected by the flexibility of the structure. OrcaFlex and OpenFAST generally agree, but there are some differences in results due to different modeling approaches. Since no experimental data are available in the study, this paper only forms a baseline for future studies but still proves and describes the possibilities of the approach and codes.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number7866
Number of pages14
Issue number23
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-81202


  • Floating offshore wind turbines
  • FOWT
  • Hydrodynamic
  • Numerical models
  • OpenFAST
  • OrcaFlex
  • TetraSpar


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