Addressing the Metocean Data Needs of the US Offshore Wind Energy Industry to Enable Accelerated Project Deployment

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Monday, 3 February 2014: 11:30 AM
Room C114 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Bruce H. Bailey, AWS Truepower LLC, Albany, NY

Offshore wind energy is an emergent renewable energy industry in the United States. Projects have been proposed or are under development in waters adjacent to over a dozen states along the Eastern Seaboard, the Gulf of Mexico, the Pacific Coast, Hawaii and the Great Lakes. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 54 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity could be built by 2030. A potential barrier to achieving this full potential, however, is the need for accurate meteorological and oceanographic (metocean) information to evaluate the energy potential, economic viability, and engineering requirements of offshore project sites over their minimum design life of 20 years. Currently available metocean data, instrumentation and models do not supply all the information required to support large-scale wind project deployment. Offshore wind technologies are heavily dependent on the design environment – namely wind, wave and current conditions – which impact different aspects of project viability: construction, performance, reliability, accessibility, safety, and economics, among others. It is contingent on the weather-energy community to help resolve these issues for this emergent industry. In 2010 the American Meteorological Society Board on Enterprise Planning (AMS BEP) established the Annual Partnership Topic (APT) committee on Offshore Wind Energy. The committee's overarching mission was to define the need for and recommend expansion of metocean data required to support studies of the wind resource and design conditions relevant to wind farm development and operations in offshore locations of the United States. This includes observed and modeled data parameters—wind, turbulence, waves, currents, air and sea surface temperature, atmospheric stability, and other weather—that impact wind turbines, foundations, electric cabling, service vessels, and human safety. In mid-2013 the committee completed its mission and released a report entitled “The Need for Expanded Meteorological and Oceanographic Data to Support Resource Characterization and Design Condition Definition for Offshore Wind Power Projects in the United States” (http://www.ametsoc.org/boardpges/cwce/docs/BEP/Offshore-Wind/2013-05-Offshore-Wind-APT-Final-Report.pdf).

This paper presents an overview of this report, which speaks to the offshore wind energy industry's needs for metocean information and recommends strategies for bridging important data gaps through multi-disciplinary engagement to better enable the advancement of this technology's deployment. The core discussion points are: the offshore wind energy opportunities and challenges in the United States; the role of metocean data in addressing project planning, design and operations; sources of existing measured and modeled data; and data gaps and potential strategies to address these gaps.

The paper will also describe how the report is intended for the use of members of the diverse weather, climate and marine communities who are interested or engaged in the metocean aspects of offshore wind energy planning, development, operations, and regulations. It is also intended to be a resource to inform other interested parties, such as decision and policy makers, about the importance of advancing the knowledge of metocean issues, thereby facilitating the advancement of offshore wind energy. The ultimate goal is to encourage collaborative efforts among a broad range of stakeholders that aim to advance the metocean science in ways that support the needs of offshore wind energy.