Global population growth and climate change are driving a need for increased clean renewable energy generation. One such resource is wind energy and while the onshore and fixed offshore wind energy industries are mature, the floating offshore wind energy industry is still at a demonstration phase. Floating wind turbine platforms are generally of a much smaller displacement than the typical offshore structures that have been used in the oil and gas industry. This difference results in changes to the platform dynamics, especially those resulting from second order wave forces. Existing research into low frequency drift motions of small body platforms has been mainly confined to numerical modelling with some experimental work. This work expands on this knowledge by validating numerical modelling with full scale observational data.

In this paper, a numerical time-domain model of a relatively small displacement platform is developed. The platform is installed in a relatively shallow water depth of about 110 m and station keeping is provided by four equally spaced catenary mooring chains. The required fidelity for the low frequency response is compared using first order forces only and either a full QTF (quadratic transfer equation) or Newman’s approximation. The model is compared with observation data from the Fukushima FORWARD project’s floating substation, an advanced spar type, which is composed of measurements of multidirectional wave spectra, wind and current as model inputs and six DOF platform motions as outputs. In addition to this the model computational expense is reduced by decreasing the number of wave directions simulated. The accuracy of such reductions is then described. Observation data is grouped according to sea-state data. An empirical drag coefficient formula is proposed. The 50 year return period design sea-state is also modelled using a JONSWAP spectrum and the various numerical models.

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