Quantifying the hurricane risk to offshore wind turbines

Stephen Rose, Paulina Jaramillo, Mitchell J. Small, Iris Grossmann, Jay Apt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that if the United States is to generate 20% of its electricity from wind, over 50 GW will be required from shallow offshore turbines. Hurricanes are a potential risk to these turbines. Turbine tower buckling has been observed in typhoons, but no offshore wind turbines have yet been built in the United States. We present a probabilistic model to estimate the number of turbines that would be destroyed by hurricanes in an offshore wind farm. We apply thismodel to estimate the risk to offshore wind farms in four representative locations in the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal waters of the United States. In themost vulnerable areas now being actively considered by developers, nearly half the turbines in a farmare likely to be destroyed in a 20-y period. Reasonable mitigation measures - increasing the design reference wind load, ensuring that the nacelle can be turned into rapidly changing winds, and building most wind plants in the areas with lower risk - can greatly enhance the probability that offshore wind can help to meet the United States' electricity needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3247-3252
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number9
StatePublished - Feb 28 2012


  • Phase-type distribution
  • Probabilistic analysis
  • Tropical cyclone
  • Wind energy

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