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Using Large-Eddy Simulations to Define Spectral and Coherence Characteristics of the Hurricane Boundary Layer for Wind-Energy Applications

Worsnop, Rochelle P., Bryan, George H., Lundquist, Julie K., Zhang, Jun A.
Boundary-layer meteorology 2017 v.165 no.1 pp. 55-86
coasts, hurricanes, simulation models, turbulent flow, wind power, wind speed, wind turbines, United States
Offshore wind-energy development is planned for regions where hurricanes commonly occur, such as the USA Atlantic Coast. Even the most robust wind-turbine design (IEC Class I) may be unable to withstand a Category-2 hurricane (hub-height wind speeds >50 m s[Formula: see text]). Characteristics of the hurricane boundary layer that affect the structural integrity of turbines, especially in major hurricanes, are poorly understood, primarily due to a lack of adequate observations that span typical turbine heights (<200 m above sea level). To provide these data, we use large-eddy simulations to produce wind profiles of an idealized Category-5 hurricane at high spatial (10 m) and temporal (0.1 s) resolution. By comparison with unique flight-level observations from a field project, we find that a relatively simple configuration of the Cloud Model I model accurately represents the properties of Hurricane Isabel (2003) in terms of mean wind speeds, wind-speed variances, and power spectra. Comparisons of power spectra and coherence curves derived from our hurricane simulations to those used in current turbine design standards suggest that adjustments to these standards may be needed to capture characteristics of turbulence seen within the simulated hurricane boundary layer. To enable improved design standards for wind turbines to withstand hurricanes, we suggest modifications to account for shifts in peak power to higher frequencies and greater spectral coherence at large separations.