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CEIC-11-03

"Quantifying the Hurricane Risk to Offshore Wind Turbines"
Stephen Rose, Paulina Jaramillo, Mitchell Small, Iris Grossmann and Jay Apt

Abstract:
The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that if the U.S. is to generate 20% of its electricity from wind, over 50 GW will be required from shallow offshore turbines. Hurricanes are a potential risk to these turbines. Turbine tower buckling has been observed in typhoons, but no offshore wind turbines have yet been built in the U.S. We present a probabilistic model to estimate the number of turbines that would be destroyed by hurricanes in an offshore wind farm. We apply this model to estimate the risk to offshore wind farms in four representative locations in the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal waters of the U.S. In the most vulnerable areas now being actively considered by developers, nearly half the turbines in a farm are likely to be destroyed in a 20-year period. We show that adding a capability to yaw the turbine's nacelle fast enough to follow the wind direction changes in a hurricane significantly reduces the risk the turbine will be destroyed. Reasonable mitigation measures - increasing the design reference wind load, ensuring that the nacelle can be turned into rapidly changing winds, and building most wind plants in the areas with lower risk - can greatly enhance the probability that offshore wind can help to meet the United States' electricity needs.

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