3.1 Hurricane risk to offshore wind farms

Tuesday, 8 January 2013: 8:30 AM
Room 6A (Austin Convention Center)
Mark Powell, NOAA/AOML/HRD, Tallahassee, FL; and S. Cocke

A recent and well-publicized engineering study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicted that a hypothetical wind farm located offshore Galveston, TX, would have a 30% chance of losing half of its wind turbines and a 41% chance of losing ten or more over a typical 20-year wind-farm lifetime.  This study was covered by USA Today, the New York Times, and other media outlets, and cast uncertainty on the nascent offshore wind-energy industry in areas susceptible to hurricanes.

We found errors and several poor assumptions in the hazard modeling approach, which relied heavily on fits to generalized extreme value distributions.  In a new analysis of the same hypothetical wind farm, we applied a hurricane wind field model along historical storm tracks. We found an average loss of 2 turbines per 20-year period, compared to 24 using their methods.  We recommend the use of industry-standard stochastic risk models similar to those used to estimate risk in the residential insurance market in Florida.

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