Control Seminar

Sink or Swim: Control of Floating Offshore Wind Turbines

Lucy PaoProfessor of Electrical, Computer and Energy EngineeringPalmer Endowed ChairUniversity of Colorado Boulder
1311 EECS BuildingMap

Abstract:  Wind energy is among the fastest-growing sources of electrical energy worldwide. Compared to land-based wind energy, offshore wind energy has the advantages of increased wind resource availability and consistency, proximity to major population centers, and enabling larger-scale turbines. As such, over the last decade, installed offshore wind power capacity has grown at a phenomenal average rate of 33% per year. Currently, more than 99% of installed offshore wind capacity consists of fixed-bottom wind turbines in shallow waters (<60m deep). Globally, however, the majority of offshore wind resources are over water depths greater than 60m. Floating wind turbines are better suited in such deep waters. Though, compared to fixed-bottom wind turbines, floating wind turbines are more dynamic and exhibit potential instabilities, which require advanced control methods to ensure a safe and efficient operation. Beyond their existing objectives of maximizing power production while minimizing structural loads, floating wind turbine controllers must also avoid large platform oscillations and accommodate ocean wave and current disturbances. In this talk, I will provide an overview of the challenges and opportunities in the control of floating offshore wind energy systems. I will also summarize some of our recent work in developing and analyzing multi-loop feedback control approaches aimed at improving power quality, regulating the generator speed, and/or mitigating structural loading.

Bio:  Lucy Pao is a Palmer Endowed Chair Professor in the Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering Department and a Professor (by courtesy) in the Aerospace Engineering Sciences Department at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder). She is also a Fellow of the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, a joint institute between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and CU Boulder. She earned B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University. Her research has focused on engineering control systems, with applications ranging from atomic force microscopes to multi-megawatt wind energy systems. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) and is a foreign corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Selected recent recognitions include the 2017 American Automatic Control Council (AACC) Control Engineering Practice Award, 2017 European Academy of Wind Energy (EAWE) Scientific Award, 2019 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Nyquist Lecturer Award, 2020 IFAC Application Paper Prize Finalist, 2022 CU Boulder Holland Outstanding Faculty Mentorship Award and 2022 CU Boulder Outstanding Postdoc Mentor of the Year Award. Selected current professional society activities include being an IFAC Technical Board member and an IFAC Pavel J. Nowacki Distinguished Lecturer.

***Event will take place in a hybrid format. The location for in-person attendance will be room 1311 EECS.   Attendance will also be possible via Zoom. Zoom link and password will be distributed to the Controls Group e-mail list-serv.

To join this list-serv, please send an (empty) email message to with the word “subscribe” in the subject line. To cancel your subscription, send an email to  with the word “unsubscribe” in the subject line.  Zoom information is also available upon request to Michele Feldkamp (

Faculty Host

Pete SeilerAssociate Professor, Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceUniversity of Michigan