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NREL Assesses National Design Standards for Offshore Wind Energy Projects

September 3, 2014

NREL recently released the Assessment of Offshore Wind System Design, Safety, and Operation Standards report, which summarizes regulations, standards, and guidelines for the design and operation of offshore wind energy projects in the United States. The report, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), also provides a snapshot of industry and government efforts underway to develop guidelines for U.S. offshore wind energy development.

NREL's report builds on the American Wind Energy Association's (AWEA) Offshore Compliance Recommended Practices, which was published in 2012 and included key contributions from NREL researchers. AWEA's report was based on existing standards—from the International Electrotechnical Commission, the International Organization for Standardization, and the American Petroleum Institute—as well as guidelines from the American Bureau of Shipping and DNV GL, a leading ship and offshore classification organization.

Although the AWEA document provided an interim pathway for U.S. offshore wind energy development, it did not address some of the challenges unique to offshore wind development in the United States. Structures must be designed to withstand extreme operating conditions, such as hurricanes or the accumulation of freshwater ice, and also to operate in deeper water deployments requiring floating structures.

To develop or adapt appropriate offshore wind standards, NREL's report authors performed detailed analysis of current and pending wind and offshore design standards and guidelines. The results of these analyses had to be synthesized with national offshore meteorological, ocean, and lake conditions to identify gaps. Then, to bridge those gaps, the authors created more comprehensive recommendations for conditions the United States.

As a result of this initiative, there's now a broader definition of meteorological ocean resource assets, needs, and design standards, as well as a basis for making recommendations to meet offshore wind energy industry data and design certification requirements. Overall, this project is designed to enhance ongoing multiagency efforts to develop an integrated national offshore wind energy data network.

For more information, download the full report.

—Kelly Yaker