A Low-Cost Floating Offshore Vertical Axis Wind System

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Richardson, Texas
Project Term:
04/16/2020 - 04/15/2023

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:

The University of Texas at Dallas (UT-Dallas) team plans to develop a floating turbine design featuring a vertical axis wind turbine (VAWT). The design will exploit inherent VAWT characteristics favorable to deep water environments and use a CCD approach to overcome common challenges. VAWTs offer advantages over traditional offshore wind designs because they have a lower vertical center of gravity and center of pressure; require a smaller, less expensive floating platform; do not need yaw control systems; and have the potential to reduce operations and maintenance costs due to platform-level access to the drivetrain. The UT-Dallas team will design a system based on a hierarchical CCD (H-CCD) framework tailored to the floating VAWT system design. Their design framework includes aero-elastic tailoring of the rotor to reduce parked and operating loads, coordination of active plasma on-blade flow control with rotor speed control to reduce torque variability, and a lightweight and stable platform design.

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:
Dr. Todd Griffith
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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