Floating Renewables Lab

Speeds up the energy transition

At sea there is a lot of space for generating renewable energy. The problem is that most areas are deeper than 60 meters, too deep to place fixed installations. Floating wind turbines, solar panels and other energy generators offer the solution. Because the technology needed to generate energy on a large scale is still in its infancy, Prof. Axelle Viré in Delft has taken the initiative for the Floating Renewables Lab. 

"TU Delft is world-famous for its knowledge of wind energy," Axelle Viré explains. "That is one of the reasons I came here. Yet, the university is also highly regarded in the field of offshore engineering. For floating wind turbines, both areas of expertise need each other, and so the idea of the Floating Renewables Lab was born."

In the lab, eight facilities on the TU Delft campus are expanded and connected with eachother. This makes 'hardware in the loop' testing possible where the output of one research, becomes the input of another. This bridges the gap between physical experiments and numerical modelling to simulate, for example, wave loads in a wind tunnel or wind loads in a wave tank. Complex aerodynamics, floating stability, sea-keeping systems, and even storage and transportation of energy with hydrogen are challenges that will be investigated in the Floating Renewables Lab. "When the lab is completed, we will have all the specialists together on two square kilometres. I haven't seen that anywhere else in the world so far."


When the lab is completed soon, we will have all the specialists together on two square kilometres. I haven't seen that anywhere else in the world so far.

Axelle Vire ― dr. Axelle Viré , Specialist wind energy Faculty of Aerospace Engineering

For innovation and testing

The lab will be a place for innovation and testing, aimed to help accelerate Europe's energy transition. "The more accurately we can test at the lab level, the less expensive and time-consuming testing is needed on a larger scale. Because we are a university, researchers and students can also develop radically new ideas here. Ideas that are too risky for the industry itself to work on."

Important for the Netherlands

Although Dutch sea areas are not that deep, this lab is also very important for our country. "First, we need to look at the energy transition in a broader perspective," explains Axelle Viré. "We are connected to the European grid and import energy. Europe's ambition is to increase offshore renewable energy generation from 12 GW to 400 GW. That can only happen if we can produce and install floating installations on a large scale." 

"Secondly, it is important for the Dutch offshore industry. They are already involved in the current developments and for them, high-level test facilities and highly trained specialized personnel are crucial to staying ahead in the market. Finally, it is an important opportunity for the position of TU Delft itself.” 

We are already a pioneer in wind energy research and offshore engineering, and this lab extends that position further. It also gives a new generation of Delft engineers the opportunity to develop in the field of all forms of sustainable energy generation at sea.

Axelle Vire ― dr. Axelle Viré, Specialist wind energy Faculty of Aerospace Engineering

Large investments needed

The realization of the lab still requires large investments. This involves upgrading facilities, purchasing hardware such as extra hexapods, but also investing in people. The university will contribute, industry partners are interested and there are opportunities for long-term government funding. "Contributions from alumni are also very welcome. They ensure that we can get started in the short term. With the purchase of equipment or the start of a PhD trajectory. Every contribution helps!"

Our megahexapod can exert motions and forces in six independent degrees of freedom up to one Meganewton. This allows us to apply the motions that floating energy installations experience at sea.

― Dr. Carey Walters (3ME), Test Bench for Turbine Towers

In our part of the lab, we perform model tests where we analyze the hydrodynamic loads and movements of the entire floating installation, from the anchorage line through the floating structure to the moving rotor. This is essential because they interact with each other.

― Dr. Sebastian Schreier (3ME), Wave Tank

My specialty is designing and testing structures on which offshore energy installations are placed. With newly-designed parts and operating systems, we can realize hardware-in-the-loop testing and truly integrate the lab's facilities.

― Prof. Andrei V. Metrikine (CEG), Test Bench for Turbine Tower, Ice Chamber, Acoustic lab