Addressing Challenges in Energy: Floating Wind in a Changing Climate

Addressing Challenges in Energy: Floating Wind in a Changing Climate (ACE-FWICC) is an Energy Earthshot Research Center featuring an interdisciplinary team that will develop a new understanding of meteorological and oceanic conditions to advance the design, control, and grid integration of floating offshore wind using scientific machine learning (SciML).

Illustration showing floating offshore wind turbines

ACE-FWICC is led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory, Colorado School of Mines, Johns Hopkins University, Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Colorado, Boulder, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, and Texas A&M University.

ACE-FWICC is working to develop the fundamental understanding required to reach the Department of Energy’s Floating Offshore Wind Shot aggressive goal to reduce the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of floating offshore wind by 70 percent by 2035. Approximately two thirds of offshore wind potential across the United States is over waters that are too deep for conventional, fixed-bottom wind turbines. Floating offshore wind turbines have the potential to capture this energy, renewably fueling coastal areas. However, their deployment faces significant scientific and technological challenges.

Graphical illustration of the different components of ACE-FWICC research
The ACE-FWICC team will develop a SciML-based digital energy system based on existing models representing the metocean conditions, turbine and farm, and the operation and optimization of the grid. (Image by Nathan Johnson | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

ACE-FWICC centers around developing rich understanding of the different aspects of the floating offshore wind system and their interconnections. The team will begin with state-of-the-art domain specific models and use them to generate data, asking fundamental science questions. They will focus on key meteorological and oceanic (metocean) phenomena, the design and control of floating offshore wind turbines and farms, and integration with the grid. The team will then use the detailed models to generate a suite of scientific machine learning (SciML) tools that create a holistic digital energy system to model floating offshore wind in current and future climates.

This ambitious project requires an integrated team with diverse expertise across Earth science, turbine engineering, grid modeling, and machine learning. ACE-FWICC brings together an interdisciplinary group of researchers in a collaborative and interconnected framework. Rather than creating siloed knowledge, developments in one area of research will feed into other projects across the center.

The goal of ACE-FWICC is to develop the scientific knowledge needed to lower the levelized cost of energy of floating offshore wind turbines. The center has four themes that act as guides for the research structure.

  • Metocean Theme
  • Turbine and Farm Theme
  • Grid Theme
  • SciML Digital Energy System Theme

The Metocean Theme, Turbine and Farm Theme, and Grid Theme will all adapt and improve existing models of relevant phenomena. These highly detailed models are often extremely computationally expensive and require advanced computing resources. They can provide in-depth information about domain-specific processes but are impractical to connect to model the entire offshore wind energy system given differences in the format of their results and computational needs. ACE-FWICC scientists will use outputs from the detailed models to generate simpler surrogate models that can be linked together. The SciML-based models will be computationally efficient and connected, allowing the ACE-FWICC team to study how changes in one part of the overall system will affect the cost of floating offshore wind energy. The team will focus efforts on modeling the U.S. West Coast, which has existing lease areas for energy generation that will require floating wind turbines.