Project Submission: OpenFAST Design Code Enabling Floating Offshore Wind
Dr. Jason Jonkman is nominated for outstanding contributions he made to help launch the floating offshore wind industry. For 20 years, Dr. Jonkman worked to originate, engineer, maintain, and optimize FAST, one of the world’s first engineering computer design tools specifically developed to assess coupled dynamic loading on floating wind turbines.The FAST innovation led the way for the first generation of floating wind turbines and continues to serve the industry today as a principal asset.
In 2002 the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) first recognized offshore wind and tasked the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with initiating an offshore wind research program. At this time, floating wind turbines were considered fringe technology studied only by a few with very little physics-based evidence of viability. The DOE vision was to explore the feasibility of floating wind technology, a job which came to rest on Jason Jonkman.
Jason spent many years, while gaining his PhD, reworking and upgrading the clunky land-based wind turbine dynamics code, FAST, and creating a new offshore code. By 2005, this uber FAST code could now simulate wave actions, anchor system dynamics, coupled floating platform dynamics and integrate the advanced controls needed to stabilize the complex system motions. His early work was so important and respected that it was followed by many European researchers. For 20 years, Dr. Jonkman worked to originate, engineer, maintain, and optimize the FAST Code, now called OpenFAST, one of the world’s first engineering computer design tools specifically developed to assess coupled dynamic loading on floating wind turbines.
At the first European offshore wind conference in Copenhagen in 2005, Jason co-founded an international research project on offshore code evaluation sponsored by IEA Wind, Task 30, which continues today under the leadership of NREL’s Dr. Amy Robertson. This IEA project, known as the Offshore Codes Comparison Collaborative, led to improvements in all offshore analysis codes worldwide, due in a large part to Jason’s work and leadership. This industry-wide quality assurance process remains a critical pillar of the offshore wind industry today. In addition, Jason has served continuously on the IEC TC-88 61400-3-1 offshore wind design standards committee to ensure it contains the latest design practices followed by designers.
Because of Jason’s work, the NREL/DOE’s offshore wind research is among the best in the world. His work provided robust stability to the NREL offshore wind program even while federal support for offshore wind wavered. He is considered the most knowledgeable floating offshore turbine analyst in the world. His work with FAST has given the industry a transparent, open-source design tool which is second to none and will be recognized by experts for decades.