As per a study done at the University of Colorado at Boulder, current standards of Offshore Wind Turbines are vulnerable to the powerful gusts of category 5, and strongly recommends installation of these turbines in hurricane-prone areas. The research, done in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, has urged engineers and manufacturers to build Offshore Wind Turbines that are more resilient to hurricanes for the proper prosperity of the global offshore wind turbines market, which is gaining traction from the popularity of renewable energy resources.
The study was done using large-eddy simulations to create a powerful hurricane with the help of a computer, aiming to gauge the worst-case scenario for offshore wind turbines against power hurricanes. Currently, the offshore wind turbines have a threshold to withstand winds of 50 meters-per-second, although wind speeds near the eyewall of the storm can reach up to 90 meters-per-second.
The U.S. Offshore Wind Turbines Market Has an Obstacle to Overcome
In the recent past, the United States has significantly increased its focus on offshore wind energy, with several projects either underway or under consideration, mostly at Atlantic costal states, from Carolinas to Maine and the Great Lakes to West Coast. The inaugural utility-scale offshore wind farm in the country was built at the coat of Rhode Island and has been functioning since December 2016. It consists of five turbines, which will need more resilience in case of a Category 5 wind gusts, as per the study.
The Need for a Standard Regulations
Currently, there are no specific guidelines for offshore wind turbines, though the standard of turbine design is governed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The study recommends the construction of larger turbines blades than land-based turbines, as these can be transported more efficiently via freighter than on land by rail or truck. In addition to that, current standards does not take account for veer, which is a measurement of the change in wind direction across a vertical span.
Although hurricane wind speeds in the range of 90 meters-per-second is rare, a few cases have been observed, which highlight the limitation of the current instruments. These findings aspire to help the wind farm developers to enhance design standards, as well as raise awareness among the stakeholders of the global offshore wind turbines market.