Scenario Analysis for Techno-Economic Model Development of U.S. Offshore Wind Support Structures

Rick Damiani, Aaron Smith, Benjamin Maples, Andrew Ning, Katherine Dykes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus Citations


Challenging bathymetry and soil conditions of future US offshore wind power plants might promote the use of multimember, fixed-bottom structures (or 'jackets') in place of monopiles. Support structures affect costs associated with the balance of system and operation and maintenance. Understanding the link between these costs and the main environmental design drivers is crucial in the quest for a lower levelized cost of energy, and it is the main rationale for this work. Actual cost and engineering data are still scarce; hence, we evaluated a simplified engineering approach to tie key site and turbine parameters (e.g. water depth, wave height, tower-head mass, hub height and generator rating) to the overall support weight. A jacket-and-tower sizing tool, part of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory's system engineering software suite, was utilized to achieve mass-optimized support structures for 81 different configurations. This tool set provides preliminary sizing of all jacket components. Results showed reasonable agreement with the available industry data, and that the jacket mass is mainly driven by water depth, but hub height and tower-head mass become more influential at greater turbine ratings. A larger sensitivity of the structural mass to wave height and target eigenfrequency was observed for the deepest water conditions (>40 m). Thus, techno-economic analyses using this model should be based on accurate estimates of actual metocean conditions and turbine parameters especially for deep waters. The relationships derived from this study will inform National Renewable Energy Laboratory's offshore balance of system cost model, and they will be used to evaluate the impact of changes in technology on offshore wind lower levelized cost of energy.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)731-747
Number of pages17
JournalWind Energy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-66252


  • balance of system
  • cost analysis
  • jacket substructure
  • mass sensitivity to environmental variables
  • offshore wind


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