Research Areas

Control of offshore renewable energy devices

About the research area

Historically, research in offshore renewable energy has focused on the development of devices in the case of wave energy . Control systems have never been a priority in the initial phases and have only begun to be considered once the models and prototypes are validated. This design strategy can cause many problems such as instability, inefficiency and poor performance of a prototype. In addition to large delays and high costs caused by the bad behavior of the devices.

The reduction of costs by designing advanced control systems in the case of floating wind turbines must take into account that fatigue loads arise affecting the useful life of the components, reducing their life cycle and therefore influencing availability and increasing the cost of energy.

An objective in this area is to analyze how the control can positively affect the reduction of fatigue of the most critical points of the wind turbine, and design a strategy to maximize the energy extracted and reduce the movements of the structure, as well as the dynamic loads that are generated in it. The main difficulty lies in finding the equilibrium point between energy production and structural loads.

Wave energy systems, unlike more mature renewable energies such as photovoltaics or wind, are in a state of preliminary development, where the ultimate goal is the consolidation of a device that is commercially viable through the reduction of LCOE. Due to this state of development, this reduction is mainly based on the increase in production. For this, advanced controls (predictive, adaptive) are used to maximize the power extracted. The real limits of the different components of the power chain and the low precision of the prediction of the resource must be taken into account.

The first step focuses on obtaining accurate models for an initial simulation design. The control system is then validated in a small-scale test-bench. The final goal is to implement it in real prototypes.

This research line is part of the Joint Research Laboratory on Offshore Renewable Energy (JRL-ORE) (for more information visit