A team of US government-backed researchers is developing a new mooring system that aims to reduce the cost of floating offshore wind turbines.

The team – from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Texas A&M University and the University of Maine – are conducting the research with a three-year, $497,341 grant from the National Science Foundation.

They are working with Vryhof Anchors on a mooring system that uses an integrated network of anchors and lines to hold turbines in place on an industrial-scale.

Currently, each floating wind turbine has its own individual anchoring system.

“The proposed networked system would save money and require fewer anchors and geotechnical site investigations,” the researchers said.

The team will evaluate the feasibility and design implications of variable soil conditions on the ocean floor for securing the anchors, the layout of the wind farms and the dynamics that cause loads on the anchors.

They will also be developing wind and wave models for the best placement and orientation of the wind farms.

The researchers will also look at the best designs for the mooring lines, the connections between the floating wind turbine and the anchors.

Three-dimensional models will be developed for measuring the behavior of the anchors on the sea floor and the best designs for the multiple cables attached to each anchor.

University of Massachusetts Amherst researcher Sanjay Arwade said: “At each level, the floating structure and the anchor, there are challenging nonlinear and dynamic issues that force this research to work at the cutting edge of geotechnical engineering and offshore structural engineering.

“For that reason it also provides a perfect opportunity to educate the next generation of researchers in the area of offshore wind energy, and is supporting a doctoral student towards that end.”

The funding comes jointly from the NSF’s Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry and Geotechnical Engineering programs.

Image: the WindFloat floating offshore wind turbine demo (Demowfloat)