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A recent study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) unveils a new strategic vision for floating offshore wind. Researchers identify barriers that must be overcome to bring down the overall cost of energy produced, then outline a vision for an integrated systems approach with the potential to significantly improve the market feasibility of floating wind plants.
 
Detailed modelling by NREL researchers shows that needed cost reductions are unlikely to come from a single breakthrough invention, but will require the deliberate combination of design building blocks that span multiple disciplines—a complementary combination of innovations in technologies, design features, and installation and operational strategies.
 
To achieve this vision, the NREL approach uses a fully integrated systems-engineering and techno-economic design to capture the complex interactions among physics, manufacturing, installation, and operation of floating wind systems and identify optimal designs that dramatically reduce costs.The current approach to offshore wind system design is iterative, with each company bringing to the table its own area of expertise and profit motive.
 
The NREL study examines the current state of floating offshore wind technology and highlights gaps in development and areas that could benefit from additional tools and innovation. Researchers looked at system components including turbines, platforms, moorings, and controls. They also reviewed plant-level factors, such as wake and array effects; manufacturing, installation, operation, and maintenance; grid integration; and environmental impact.
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