October 01, 2012

Extreme Weather Impacts on Offshore Wind Turbines: Lessons Learned

Kimberly E. Diamond

Due to more intense weather conditions than originally anticipated, hundreds of offshore wind turbines in Europe are undergoing extensive repair. Many of these repairs are attributable to the turbines’ designs, which were not engineered to withstand the force and duration of certain metocean (meteorological and oceanographic) conditions and extreme weather to which they unexpectedly have been exposed. Miscalculations relating to violent, extended storms of greater intensity and stronger winds than predicted have caused more extensive damage than envisioned as a result of these storms’ impacts on wave height, wave force, and an active shifting seabed in the form of scour and migrating sandwaves. As a result, costly repairs to rectify turbine foundation issues and undersea transmission cable exposure are underway. Also, these weather events and the navigational risk mitigation measures implemented to address them have caused vessels navigating around wind farms to encounter breach of contract risks.

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