Active Stabilization of a Floating Wind Turbine Platform; Changing Perceptions of Offshore Wind Infrastructure Development in The U.S.

Metcalf, Matthew, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Momot, Michael, EN-Mech/Aero Engr Dept, University of Virginia
Baritaud, Catherine, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

Harnessing the winds for clean energy is a necessary step in countering the climate crisis that is growing closer each day. To better understand the mechanics of offshore wind, a massively important subsection of wind energy, the technical research was pointed toward designing a prototype for the base of an offshore wind turbine. Better understanding the mechanics of common active methods in current industrial turbines can lead to understanding the challenges posed by the development of offshore wind farms. Among the mechanical challenges are the sociopolitical challenges of introducing a new technological energy source into existing infrastructural networks, which is the focus of the science, technology, and society (STS) research paper. The paper will provide a framework in order to analyze the changing perceptions of offshore wind as it is being developed in the United States. The tightly coupled technical report and research paper will seek to investigate challenges in the field of offshore wind and how the future of the technology will depend on overcoming those challenges.
By exploring an active solution to stabilizing an offshore wind turbine, research is being done in the field of clean energy, which will contribute to battling the climate crisis that faces the planet. The research reported in the technical paper mirrors current methods in offshore wind engineering. The prototype design chosen and developed was a hybrid between a semisubmersible and tension-leg platform.
The semisubmersible tension-leg hybrid design that was developed for the technical project was a qualitative success, but quantitative data was difficult to collect because of late arrival of the sensor necessary to collect the data. Video evidence of trials shows a clear distinction between the stabilization with and without the active tension-leg rig. Overall, it was proven that the method chosen was successful in stabilizing the platform efficiently.
The STS research paper explores how offshore wind is perceived by different communities that are affected by the introduction of the technology under a sociotechnical framework. Offshore wind is opposed by acting legislation, fishermen, and conservationists; but it is being funded by current administration and is supported by the new Haliade-X series of wind turbines developed by General Electric.
Through the lens of the framework of Law and Callon’s Actor-Network theory, the perception of offshore wind technology is easily understood by the relationships of different groups surrounding the new monoliths. Actor-Network theory was used by Law and Callon to analyze the failing development of a military aircraft, and will be applicable to the current development of offshore wind.
Offshore wind technology is in promising pursuit of aiding in the fight against climate change, but the technology has major hurdles to get over before it is universally accepted. The technology exists for the implementation of offshore wind farms as a sophisticated and staple energy source in the United States, but how the technology is perceived by those who are most affected by it will determine its future progress. Offshore wind energy is a capable technology that can work to help save the planet, but building wind farms the right way is important for a sustainable future in clean energy.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Actor-Network Theory, Offshore Wind Energy, Floating Wind Turbine, Tension-Leg Platform, Perceptions of Technology

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Michael Momot
STS Advisor: Catherine Baritaud
Technical Team Members: Ryan Anderson, Daniel Dereberry, Christopher Murdock, Conner Steenrod

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