There are global efforts in the offshore wind community to develop reliable floating wind turbine technologies that are capable of exploiting the abundant deepwater wind resource. These efforts require validated numerical simulation tools to predict the coupled aero-hydro-servo-elastic behavior of such systems. To date, little has been done in the public domain to validate floating wind turbine simulation tools. This work begins to address this problem by presenting the validation of a model constructed in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) floating wind turbine simulator FAST with 1/50th-scale model test data for a semi-submersible floating wind turbine system. The test was conducted by the University of Maine DeepCwind program at Maritime Research Institute Netherlands' offshore wind/wave basin, located in the Netherlands. The floating wind turbine used in the tests was a 1/50th-scale model of the NREL 5-MW horizontal-axis reference wind turbine with a 126 m rotor diameter. This turbine was mounted to the DeepCwind semi-submersible floating platform. This paper first outlines the details of the floating system studied, including the wind turbine, tower, platform, and mooring components. Subsequently, the calibration procedures used for tuning the FAST floating wind turbine model are discussed. Following this calibration, comparisons of FAST predictions and test data are presented that focus on system global and structural response resulting from aerodynamic and hydrodynamic loads. The results indicate that FAST captures many of the pertinent physics in the coupled floating wind turbine dynamics problem. In addition, the results highlight potential areas of improvement for both FAST and experimentation procedures to ensure accurate numerical modeling of floating wind turbine systems.

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