Offshore Wind Workshop Addresses Industry Challenges

October 21, 2019

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Key topics included cost reductions and improving resource and site characterization

The National Offshore Wind Strategy developed by DOE and the U.S. Department of the Interior identifies the need to reduce costs and technology risks through improved offshore wind power resource and site characterization. Offshore wind representatives met this spring to discuss meteorological and oceanographic research with the potential to advance these strategic goals.

Held in Alexandria, Virginia, the “Research Needs for Offshore Wind Resource Characterization” workshop was jointly led by researchers from DOE’s PNNL, ANL, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and NREL. Participants included representatives from WETO, the U.S. and European offshore wind industries, federal agencies, DOE National Laboratories, and the academic research community.

The workshop highlighted the need for a better understanding of the meteorological, ocean, and seafloor conditions unique to offshore wind development sites in the United States. Discussions provided valuable updates on state-of-the-art resources and techniques for assessing and forecasting wind energy offshore. Topics also included wind-wave coupled models, wakes from wind power plants and clusters, blade leading-edge erosion by precipitation, spatial wind speed gradients, and wind and wave loading on offshore structures.

Participants identified long-term observation as critical to capturing the full range of atmospheric conditions and describing them with statistical significance, especially for assessing the impact of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes. The group also considered the potential for airborne measurement systems, including drones, aircraft, and radiosondes, to complement existing measurement capabilities for intensive observation of specific physical processes.

Many wind turbines in ocean and silhouetted against blue sky.
Participants identified long-term observations as critical to capturing the full range of atmospheric conditions and describing them with statistical significance. Photo from Nicholas Doherty

In addition, workshop attendees identified possible unmanned and autonomous platforms—such as surface vehicles, wave gliders, and automated systems—that could provide meteorological and oceanographic “metocean” information. These include wind- and solar-powered unmanned surface vehicles equipped with metocean sensors, semiautonomous research platforms to gather physical properties of the upper ocean and lower atmosphere, low-cost spar buoys for air-sea flux measurements, marine-profiling microwave radiometers, and lidar buoys for metocean measurements.

This input will inform DOE regarding decisions about potential R&D efforts related to offshore wind energy. Learn more from the workshop report.

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