Estimating the Threat to Offshore Wind Farms using a 24-year Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Climatology

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Tuesday, 4 February 2014: 9:30 AM
Room C114 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Brandy Stimac, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, NC; and A. S. Adams and M. Eastin

Offshore wind resources in the United States are estimated to be over 830,000 GW. While the US has yet to build the infrastructure to harness this vast resource, the proximity of offshore resources to large population centers makes offshore wind generated electricity an attractive energy source. The vast majority of these offshore resources are located in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic Coast, both of which are regions that experience an active hurricane season. The damaging winds associated with land falling tropical cyclones (TCs) could pose a risk to offshore wind farms. Historical TC tracks and associated wind speeds from the Extended Best Track Database of the entire Atlantic basin TCs between 1988-2011 were examined to diagnose the frequency of winds of various magnitudes associated with TCs. A climatology of the number of hours of potentially damaging winds due to TCs, as well as the number of hours of beneficial wind speeds for electricity production due to TCs will be presented. When compared with the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) offshore wind resource maps, this climatology provides useful quantitative insight into the expected risk to potential offshore wind farms.