Semester of Graduation

August 2020

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Environmental Sciences

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Techno-economic analyses play an important role in determining locations for conventional wind turbine installations. This method is utilized to assess energy production potential for a new type of wind technology, known as airborne wind energy (AWE). The first objective of the present thesis was to determine overall investment potential of a utility-scale floating offshore airborne wind farm, testing five floating platform design concepts. The second objective was to determine whether the wind resources (100-1500 m) are ideal to support AWE systems in the Gulf of Mexico. Specifically, a hypothetical benchmark wind farm was developed 15 km offshore from Venice, Louisiana. The techno-economic analysis incorporated a life-cycle cost assessment (LCCA), wind resource analysis, economic feasibility cost model, and sensitivity study. The life-cycle costs of each floating offshore AWE farm concept were determined, including the estimated costs for five life phases. The phases in the LCCA include, development and consenting, production and acquisition, installation and commissioning, operation and maintenance, and decommissioning and disposal. The wind resource analysis determined the wind harvesting potential at the hypothetical wind farm site over a 41-year period (1979-2019). The mean wind speed Weibull parameters for the combined wind harvesting heights (100-1500 m) are c = 7.28 m/s and k = 4.36, indicating the site is ideal for wind farm development, when accounting for all harvesting heights. The mean wind speed Weibull parameters are c = 7.44 m/s and k = 4.88 at 500 m. These results show that ideal wind resources exist above 500 m heights in coastal Louisiana. The economic feasibility of each wind farm concept was determined through a net present value (NPV) cost model. The purpose of the sensitivity study was to demonstrate the fluctuating output variables when key cost factors were modified. The base case NPVs for all five wind farm concepts were originally estimated, but the final conclusions for investment potential were based on mature technology costs. Based on these results, the TLB-B wind farm has investment potential, due to the concept’s positive NPV. The other four wind farm concepts, TLB-X3, Hywind, WindFloat, and SWAY produced negative NPVs and are not economically feasible.

Committee Chair

Snyder, Brian

Available for download on Tuesday, June 08, 2021

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