05 May 2023
 | 05 May 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal WES.

Turbine scaling for offshore wind farms

Mihir Kishore Mehta, Michiel Bastiaan Zaaijer, and Dominic von Terzi

Abstract. Large-scale exploitation of offshore wind energy is deemed essential to provide its expected share to electricity needs of the future. To achieve the same, turbine and farm-level optimizations play a significant role. Over the past few years, the growth in the size of turbines has massively contributed to the reduction in costs. However, growing turbine sizes come with challenges in rotor design, turbine installation, supply chain, etc. It is, therefore, important to understand how to size wind turbines when minimizing the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCoE) of an offshore wind farm. Hence, this study looks at how the rated power and rotor diameter of a turbine affect various turbine and farm-level metrics and uses this information in order to identify the key design drivers and how their impact changes with setup. A Multi-disciplinary Design Optimization and Analysis (MDAO) framework is used to capture the trade-offs between various disciplines of the offshore wind farm. A baseline case, for a typical setup in the North Sea, is defined where LCoE is minimized for a given farm power and area constraint with the IEA 15 MW reference turbine as a starting point. It is found that the global optimum design, for this baseline case, is a turbine with a rated power of 15 MW and a rotor diameter of 222 m. This is already close to the state-of-the-art designs observed in the industry and close enough to the starting design to justify the applied scaling. A sensitivity study is also performed that identifies the design drivers and quantifies the impact of model uncertainties, technology/cost developments, varying farm design conditions, and different farm constraints on the optimum turbine design. To give an example, certain scenarios, like a change in the wind regime or the removal of farm power constraint, result in a significant shift in the scale of the optimum design and/or the specific power of the optimum design. Redesigning the turbine for these scenarios is found to result in an LCoE benefit of the order of 1–2 % over the already optimized baseline. The work presented here gives insights to designers, project developers, and policy makers as to how their decision may impact the optimum turbine scale.

Mihir Kishore Mehta et al.

Status: open (until 22 Jun 2023)

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Mihir Kishore Mehta et al.

Mihir Kishore Mehta et al.


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Short summary
Turbines have been getting bigger. However, it is important to understand what the key drivers of turbine design are and to explore the possibility of a global optimum beyond which, further upscaling might not reduce the cost of energy. This study explores, for a typical farm, the entire turbine design space w.r.t. rated power and rotor diameter. The results show a global optimum that is subject to various modeling uncertainties, farm design conditions, and policies w.r.t. wind farm tendering.