Offshore wind resource assessment with Standard Wind Analysis Tool (SWAT): A Rhode Island case study

Alexander Robert Crosby, University of Rhode Island


Motivated by the current Rhode Island Ocean SAMP (Special Area Management Plan) project and the growing need in the foreseeable future, analysis tools for wind resource assessment are assembled into a toolkit that can be accessed from a GIS. The analysis is demonstrated by application to the ongoing wind resource assessment of Rhode Island's offshore waters by the Ocean SAMP. The tool is called Standard Wind Analysis Tool (SWAT). SWAT utilizes a method for integrating observations from the study area or numerical model outputs to assemble the spatial distribution of the offshore wind resource. Available power is inferred from direct measurements of wind speed, but the shape of the atmospheric boundary layer or wind speed profile must be parameterized in order to extrapolate measurements to heights other than that of the measurements. The vertical wind speed profile is modeled with the basic power law assuming a 1/7 exponent parameter representing near-neutral or more accurately timeaverage conditions. As an alternate estimate from year long multi-level observations at a meteorological tower is employed. The basis for the power analysis is the 2- parameter Weibull probability distribution, recognized as standard in modeling typical wind speed distributions. A Monte-Carlo simulation of the Weibull probability density function provides the expected power densities at observation sites. Application to Rhode Island's coastal waters yields an estimated Weibull shape parameter of roughly 2 for the offshore environment and a Weibull scale parameter that increases with distance from the coast. Estimates of power in the SAMP study area range from 525 to 850 W/m² at an elevation of 80 meters based on an observed profile in the SAMP study area. Like the Weibull scale parameter, annual mean wind power increases with distance offshore.

Subject Area

Alternative Energy|Ocean engineering|Meteorology|Environmental engineering|Energy

Recommended Citation

Alexander Robert Crosby, "Offshore wind resource assessment with Standard Wind Analysis Tool (SWAT): A Rhode Island case study" (2011). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1491406.