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Developing Integrated National Design Standards for Offshore Wind Plants

January 6, 2014 - 10:00am


This is an excerpt from the Fourth Quarter 2013 edition of the Wind Program R&D Newsletter.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Wind Program and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently published a report that summarizes the regulations, standards, and guidelines for the design and operation of offshore wind projects in the United States.

In 2012, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) published its Offshore Compliance Recommended Practices that are based on existing standards and guidelines developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission for European offshore wind development, a wide group of offshore industries, the oil and gas industry, and the marine and shipping industry. Although the AWEA document provides an interim pathway for U.S. offshore wind development, it does not address some of the challenges unique to offshore wind development in the United States. These challenges include deeper water that will require floating structures and hurricanes and freshwater ice that will require structures designed to withstand extreme operating conditions.

According to an offshore resource assessment report published by DOE in 2011, the current meteorological-ocean datasets (e.g., hub-height conditions, joint wind-wave conditions, or atmospheric stability) are inadequate to support U.S. offshore wind development. As a result, the need for new or revised offshore wind guidelines for U.S. waters informed by a robust set of ocean-based measurements is seen as a primary driver to advance a national offshore resource and design data campaign.

Developing or adapting appropriate offshore wind standards requires detailed analysis of current and pending wind and maritime design guidelines. The results of these analyses must then be synthesized with national offshore meteorological, ocean, and lake conditions to identify and bridge any gaps. The Assessment of Offshore Wind System Design, Safety, and Operation Standards report introduces the pertinent international and domestic offshore design standards, discusses their relative applicability and shortcomings for the nation's offshore wind development, and provides a snapshot of industry and government efforts underway (or planned) to develop guidelines for U.S. offshore wind.