Assessment of hurricane generated loads on offshore wind farms; a closer look at most extreme historical hurricanes in New England

Document Type


Date of Original Version



We simulated and assessed the environmental forces including wave and wind loads generated by the most extreme historical hurricanes in the US northeast within the proposed offshore/planned wind farms: Hurricane Carol in 1954, and 1938 New England hurricane. Offshore wind energy industry is on the verge of rapid growth off the US east coast. Development of wind energy projects in this area requires a comprehensive assessment of hurricane risks in planning and operation stages. In this study, we used an ocean modeling system (COAWST: Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Wave Sediment Transport) to better understand and characterize hurricane-generated loads within the planned wind farm sites offshore Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The COAWST model was first validated using observed data and then applied to hurricanes with return periods of around 500-year (recommended by IEC 61400-3-1). Hurricane Carol and 1938 hurricane were simulated using a parametric model which generated the peak wind speeds of 49 m/s and 45 m/s, spatially averaged over the area, that led to significant wave heights of 11.90 m and 9.80 m, respectively.Spatial variability of the wind and wave loads within the proposed sites were assessed. Further, the effects of these variabilities on the structural response of a typical monopile were demonstrated using the OpenFAST Model. Results showed up to 60% spatial variability of hurricane loads in the leased areas. Results demonstrated the need of using advanced ocean modeling systems for planning and operation of wind farms as opposed to traditional statistical methods such as measure and correlate for site characterization.

Publication Title

Renewable Energy