Brief communication: Structural monitoring for lifetime extension of offshore wind monopiles: can strain measurements at one level tell us everything?
Operators need accurate knowledge on structural reserves to decide about lifetime extension of offshore wind turbines. Load monitoring enables us to directly compare design loads with real loading histories of the support structure in order to calculate its remaining useful lifetime. Monitoring of every hot spot is technically and financially not feasible. This paper presents a novel idea for load monitoring of monopiles. It requires strain measurements at only one level convenient for sensor installation, such as tower bottom. Measurements are converted into damage equivalent loads for 10 min time intervals. Damage equivalent loads are extrapolated to other locations of the structure with a simulation model and statistical algorithm. For this, structural loads at all locations of the monopile are calculated with aero-hydro-elastic software and updated finite element models. Damage equivalent loads at unmeasured locations are predicted from the simulation results with a k-nearest neighbor regression algorithm. The extrapolation was tested with numerical simulations of an 8 MW offshore wind turbine. Results show that damage can be predicted with an error of 1–3 % if this is done conditional on mean wind speed, which is very promising. The load monitoring concept is simple, cheap and easy to implement. This makes it ideal for making decisions on lifetime extension of monopiles.