Main content area

Optimization of composite material tower for offshore wind turbine structures

O'Leary, Kieran, Pakrashi, Vikram, Kelliher, Denis
Renewable energy 2019 v.140 pp. 928-942
automation, composite materials, energy, energy costs, manufacturing, renewable energy sources, steel, uncertainty, wind turbines
The focus of this study was to investigate the application of lightweight fiber reinforced composite materials in the construction of offshore wind turbine support structures. A composite tower design suitable for the NREL 5 MW reference wind turbine is presented. The design is based on the most automated and low cost composite manufacturing methods (pultrusion and filament winding) and the conclusions of this study may not be applicable for offshore structures using different composite material construction techniques. The mass of the tower was minimized using gradient based optimization approach. The cost of a composite tower was calculated and levelized cost of energy (LCOE) projections are discussed in comparison with the existing steel tower cost. The study determined that while the composite tower is technically feasible and has a lower mass than a comparable steel tower, uncertainty remains in how it compares economically in terms of LCOE.