ORBIT: Offshore Renewables Balance-of-System and Installation Tool

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This report describes the Offshore Renewables Balance-of-system Installation Tool ("ORBIT"), a new model developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to evaluate the balance-of-system (BOS) costs associated with offshore wind projects. In the context of wind energy projects BOS costs encompass all expenses required to construct a project other than the capital expenditures (CapEx) of the turbines and towers, including the procurement costs for all other components (such as substructures, cables, and electrical infrastructure), offshore and land-based construction costs, port costs, site surveying fees, permitting fees, and leasing fees are all categorized as BOS costs. BOS costs significantly contribute to the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for offshore wind, typically comprising over 50\% of the CapEx for a fixed-bottom offshore wind project and 60\% for a floating project. In addition, technology solutions and installation methods vary drastically between projects as they are impacted by factors such as vessel availability, geographic considerations and site geotechnical conditions. These effects require a model with appropriate fidelity to understand how these costs scale as turbine rating increases and the offshore wind supply chain, particularly offshore construction vessels, is expanded. For offshore wind, cost savings attributed to increased turbine rating are primarily realized through BOS procurement and project installation as fewer substructures and less cable are required. BOS costs represent both a modeling challenge, as well as an opportunity, for project developers to optimize solutions to reduce costs. It is critical to understand how these costs are affected by novel technologies, innovative installation processes, and operational constraints in order identify meaningful cost reductions for offshore wind energy.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages56
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5000-77081


  • balance of system
  • installation
  • model development
  • offshore wind


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