Wind Energy with Integrated Servo-control (WEIS): A Toolset to Enable Controls Co-Design of Floating Offshore Wind Energy Systems

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Golden, Colorado
Project Term:
01/20/2020 - 03/31/2023

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:

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) will develop a Wind Energy with Integrated Servo control (WEIS) model, a tool set that will enable CCD optimization of both conventional and innovative, cost-effective FOWTs. NREL’s WEIS model will be entirely open-source and publicly accessible, bringing together many components and disciplines into a concurrent design environment. The new tool is based on previous well-known NREL computer simulations (OpenFAST and WISDEM) and improves their capabilities and mathematical models for aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, mechanical structures, electrical components, control systems, economic analysis, and CCD optimization. It will be flexible and modular so that users can incorporate their own design ideas, models, inputs, and load cases. The team’s design will capture all of the critical nonlinear dynamics, system interactions, and life-cycle cost elements for a large range of FOWT archetypes and control actuators and sensors.

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:
Daniel Zalkind
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

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