The original press release for this project can be found on the website of The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium.

The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium (“the Consortium”) is pleased to announce a new research project, Ensuring Long-Term Availability and Bankability of Offshore Wind Through Hurricane Risk Assessment and Mitigation. Led by Northeastern University, with anticipated research support from the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Colorado Boulder, Clemson University, and Tufts University, the project will receive $650,000 in combined funding from the states of New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Maryland.

Relatively little technical research has been devoted to quantifying and assessing risk of Atlantic coast hurricanes to offshore wind. Developers, regulators, and insurers have limited tools to quantify the risks or determine whether meaningful design changes are necessary to manage the risk.

“We expect this proposal to remove a significant amount of the uncertainty associated with conjectures about hurricane risk with a targeted, industry-driven series of investigations that span from basic atmospheric science to highly applied OSW engineering,” says Jerome Hajjar, Project Lead, CDM Smith Professor and Department Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University.

The Hopkins portion of the project addresses the possible consequences of the loss of a large fraction of offshore wind power capability for short or extended periods of time for the Mid-Atlantic region in a future scenario in which extensive development of such wind farms has taken place. The group is comprised of Benjamin Schafer, the Director of the Ralph O’Connor Sustainable Energy Institute (ROSEI) as well as the Willard and Lillian Hackerman Professor of Civil and Systems Engineering; Benjamin Hobbs, a ROSEI Leadership Council Member and the Theodore M. and Kay W. Schad Professor of Environmental Management Department of Environmental Health and Engineering; and Mahdi Mehrtash, an Assistant Research Professor at Johns Hopkins University.

The team plans to examine the project through the following lens:

  • Are the risks large enough that the grid should take special precautions to provide back-up power in case of such an event? Or are the risks relatively small compared to the vulnerability of the present power system to outages due to freezing or heat waves that increases electricity demands while at the same time reducing the capability of traditional power plants?

“As we bring renewable energy online we face new challenges to ensure reliability and resilience of our power systems,” Schafer said. “Partnered with an expert team and funded through the National Offshore Wind Reaearch consortium, ROSEI is providing specific insights on how best to organize the power markets and power reserve capabilities for the east coast of the US as it aims to bring landmark amounts of offshore wind online by 2030.”

“Maryland is pleased to join other states in funding this research project which seeks to deepen our understanding of the risks that hurricanes and other extreme weather events pose on offshore wind projects,” said Mary Beth Tung, Ph.D., Esq., Director of the Maryland Energy Administration. “By understanding the magnitude of these risks we can prepare and mitigate the potential harm that these extreme weather events could have on our clean energy systems.”

Over the past three years, forty-six projects received awards from the Consortium, representing over $33.3 million in funding. A full listing of the projects can be found on the Consortium’s website: NOWRDC Projects.

The National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium was established in 2018 when the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) was awarded $18.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to administer a public-private partnership focused on advancing offshore wind technology in the United States. NYSERDA contributed matching funds. The Consortium, a not-for-profit organization, supports cost-effective and responsible development of offshore wind to maximize economic benefits to the United States. The Commonwealths of Virginia and Massachusetts and the states of Maine and Maryland now also contribute to the Consortium’s funding.