ARCUS Vertical-Axis Wind Turbine

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New Mexico
Project Term:
01/20/2020 - 01/31/2023

Critical Need:

Floating offshore wind turbines (FOWTs) are currently designed to be large and heavy to replicate more familiar onshore wind turbine dynamics, maintain stability, and survive storms. However, this approach fundamentally limits how inexpensive FOWTs can ever become. Radically new designs that do not require a massive floating platform—applying the control co-design (CCD) approach of substituting mass by control systems—are needed. CCD methodologies integrate all relevant engineering disciplines at the start of the design process, with feedback control and dynamic interaction principles as the primary drivers of the design. To design innovative, economically competitive FOWTs, researchers must overcome several significant technical barriers: insufficient current knowledge of how FOWT subsystem dynamics interact; insufficient computer tools for dynamic simulation; and a dearth of experimental data. ATLANTIS will address these technical barriers while exploring radically new FOWT design concepts that minimize mass and maximize productive rotor area to provide economical offshore wind power.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Sandia National Laboratories will design a vertical-axis wind turbine (VAWT) system, ARCUS, with the goal of eliminating mass and associated cost not directly involved in capturing energy from the wind. A VAWT is ideal for floating offshore sites. Its advantages over horizontal-axis wind turbines (HAWTs) include no need of yaw systems, improved aerodynamic efficiency and a lower level placement of the turbine’s drivetrain that greatly reduces floating platform mass and associated system costs. The ARCUS design also replaces the turbine’s VAWT tower with lighter, tensioned guy wires. The result is up to a 50% lower rotor mass than traditional VAWTs. This greatly minimizes platform and system costs. Instead of designing the platform to eliminate the motion of the turbine, the project team will design the oscillating turbine-platform system to operate safely under extreme weather conditions within an allowable response. The ARCUS turbine will ensure the technical leadership of U.S. commercial and research institutions.

Potential Impact:

ATLANTIS projects will aim to develop new and potentially disruptive innovations in FOWT technology to enable a greater market share of offshore wind energy, ultimately strengthening and diversifying the array of domestic energy sources available to Americans.


Diverse, domestic energy resources can boost grid resiliency and reduce infrastructure vulnerabilities.


Increased availability of affordable, reliable wind energy could lessen reliance on fossil fuels, reducing power sector emissions.


Program developments in FOWTs could reduce the cost of wind energy production and provide an entirely new option for the offshore wind industry, as well as access to significant wind resources near major population centers on U.S. coastlines.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Mario Garcia-Sanz
Project Contact:
Brandon Ennis
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


FPS Engineering and Technology
Keppel FloaTec, LLC

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