1.4 Validation of a 14-year High-Resolution WRF Dataset for Wind Resource Assessment over Alaska

Monday, 8 January 2018: 9:30 AM
Room 15 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Jared A. Lee, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and L. Xue, A. J. Newman, A. J. Monaghan, P. Doubrawa, C. Draxl, L. Kilcher, and G. Scott

Wind energy continues to be a growing sector nationwide, on track to provide 100,000 MW of capacity in the U.S. by 2020. In Alaska wind energy is still a nascent industry, however, with only three utility-scale wind projects active in the state and a mere 62 MW of installed wind capacity at the end of 2016. Some physical challenges exist in expanding Alaska’s installed wind capacity further, both onshore and offshore, due to its unique geographical, climatic, and cultural landscape. Another barrier is the lack of a long-term wind resource assessment covering the entire state and its near-offshore areas, which requires the use of simulated wind fields due to the sparse in situ observation network.

Here we evaluate the wind fields in a new 14-year (2002–2016), 4-km horizontal grid spacing regional meteorological simulation encompassing Alaska, conducted with the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF). The initial and boundary conditions for the WRF simulation were derived from the ERA-Interim reanalysis and high-resolution sea surface temperature fields. The near-surface and three-dimensional wind fields from this long-term, high-resolution dataset are compared against available quality-controlled wind observations using a variety of metrics. Validation of this unique WRF dataset will inform the accuracy and uncertainty of a subsequent wind resource assessment for Alaska and its offshore waters, which will be performed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

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