Validation of Local Structural Loads Computed by OpenFAST Against Measurements From the Focal Experimental Campaign: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


This work presents the validation of the local structural load modeling capability in OpenFAST for floating substructures based on data from the FOCAL experimental campaign. Previously, OpenFAST could only represent the floating substructure as a rigid body, and though this approach can model the global response of the floater in most cases, it is not able to capture the structural loads within its individual members. Consideration of local substructure loads is important for some floating designs, as the pursuit of cost reduction often results in lighter and more flexible structures. To address this limitation, the HydroDyn (hydrodynamics) and SubDyn (substructure dynamics) modules of OpenFAST have been recently extended to account for the flexibility of floating substructures. To validate this new capability, we compare the results obtained by OpenFAST with data measured during the FOCAL experimental campaign, which analyzed a 1:70 scale performance-matched model of the IEA 15-MW reference turbine atop a modified University of Maine VolturnUS-S semisubmersible in a wave basin under the action of both wind and waves. For the purposes of the present work, the most important feature of the experiment is the presence of load cells at the root of each pontoon, and our objective is to assess how well those loads are reproduced by OpenFAST. To model the distributed hydrodynamic and hydrostatic loads along the floating substructure, we adopt a strip-theory approach based on the Morison equation, and we discuss the impact of different hydrodynamic modeling options (wave stretching, MacCamy-Fuchs correction, and second-order wave kinematics) on both motions and loads. For simplicity, we focus on wave-only conditions, both regular and irregular. The results demonstrate good overall agreement for the loads at the root of the pontoons for the waves analyzed in this work, especially given the assumptions and simplifications inherent to a simple strip-theory model.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages17
StatePublished - 2024
EventInternational Conference on Ocean, Offshore & Arctic Engineering - Singapore
Duration: 9 Jun 202414 Jun 2024


ConferenceInternational Conference on Ocean, Offshore & Arctic Engineering

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5000-88671


  • floating offshore wind turbine
  • HydroDyn
  • member-level loads
  • OpenFAST
  • SubDyn
  • substructure flexibility
  • validation


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