Process-Based Balance of System Cost Modeling for Offshore Wind Power Plants in the United States

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This paper describes the development of a process-based and open-source balance of system cost model that provides the capability to evaluate both existing and novel offshore wind technologies. Individual design and installation steps are represented with bottom-up engineering models that compute times and costs associated with the process; furthermore, operational constraints are assigned to each process so that delays caused by weather and presence of marine mammals may be accounted for in the overall project timeline. The model structure, assumptions, inputs, and results are vetted with industry partners and compared against actual projects for validation. Installation times show reasonable agreement with real data. Project cost sensitivities are investigated to compute the system-level impact of different design choices. First, individual vessel efficiencies are computed for varying numbers of installation vessels and weather time series to show the diminishing returns of more than two feeder barges. Then, array cable capital costs and installation times are determined for a representative project with different turbine sizes. These values quantify the cost-benefit tradeoffs and show a net-cost savings of decreasing numbers of turbines, increased turbine spacing, and fewer turbine terminations. These results demonstrate that the balance of system model features the accuracy, functionality, and accessibility to serve as the foundation for a wide range of analyses to identify cost reduction potentials for offshore wind energy in the United States.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 012039
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Physics: Conference Series
Issue number1
StatePublished - 3 Mar 2020
EventNorth American Wind Energy Academy, NAWEA 2019 and the International Conference on Future Technologies in Wind Energy 2019, WindTech 2019 - Amherst, United States
Duration: 14 Oct 201916 Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5000-74933 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-77190


  • balance of system cost model
  • offshore wind technologies


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