Comparative feasibility study of a 30 MW disruptive floater solution with a 15 MW PivotBuoy and a benchmark 15 MW semi-submersible floater in the Bay of Biscay

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This paper investigates the technical, life cycle, and economic feasibility of a 30 MW upscaled downwind turbine, comparing it to a 15 MW X1 Wind PivotBuoy downwind turbine and a benchmark 15 MW IEA Umaine VolturnUS-S upwind turbine in the 450 MW Sud de la Bretagne I wind farm site. The study is significant due to the rising energy demand, the potential for decreasing the levelized cost of energy with increased turbine size, and the optimized use of space. The size limit of current upwind turbine designs could be addressed using a downwind turbine solution.

The research is conducted by modelling the global dynamic response of the structure using OpenFAST and computing the natural frequencies and stresses using a finite element model. A lifecycle analysis is performed to identify potential pitfalls and bottlenecks by analysing the individual lifecycle phases. The economic feasibility is assessed by simulating the annual energy production using TOPFARM and utilizing structural analysis and lifecycle assessment to quantify capital, operational, and abandonment expenditures. Based on the annual energy production and the performance indicators the levelized cost of energy is calculated.

The findings indicate that while the global stability is within boundaries, the stress in members is too high with a simple scale-up of the proposed design. Bottlenecks are found in lifting operations and supply chain readiness. The levelized cost of energy and capital expenditure increased due to substructure self-weight, rendering the proposed 30 MW scale-up currently unfeasible when compared to the other two wind farms.
These findings are important as they demonstrate that the 15 MW X1 Wind PivotBuoy is not scalable without design changes. The levelized cost of energy does not decrease with an increased floater solution. The 15 MW X1 Wind PivotBuoy downwind turbine seems more economically viable, making it a more interesting option for future development.