October 20, 2022
Journal Article

Offshore Reanalysis Wind Speed Assessment Across the Wind Turbine Rotor Layer off the United States Pacific Coast


The California Pacific coast is characterized by considerable wind resource and areas of dense population, propelling interest in offshore wind energy as the United States moves toward a sustainable and decarbonized energy future. Reanalysis models continue to serve the wind energy community in a multitude of ways and the need for validation in locations where observations have been historically limited, such as offshore environments, is strong. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) owns two lidar buoys that collect wind speed observations across the wind turbine rotor layer along with meteorological and oceanographic data near the surface to characterize the wind resource. Lidar buoy data collected from recent deployments off the northern California coast near Humboldt County and the central California coast near Morro Bay allow for validation of commonly used reanalysis products. In this article, wind speeds from the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications version 2 (MERRA-2), the Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFSv2), the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR), the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Reanalysis version 5 (ERA5), and the analysis system of the Rapid Refresh (RAP) are validated at various levels across the wind turbine rotor layer. The validation results offer guidance on the performance and uncertainty associated with utilizing reanalyses for offshore wind resource characterization, providing the offshore wind energy community with information on the conditions that lead to reanalysis error. At both California coast locations, the reanalyses tend to underestimate the observed rotor-level wind resource. Occasions of large reanalysis error occur in conjunction with wind ramps, stable atmospheric conditions, wind speeds associated with peak turbine power production (> 10 m s-1), and mischaracterization of the diurnal wind speed cycle in summer months.

Published: October 20, 2022


Sheridan L.M., R. Krishnamurthy, G. Garcia Medina, B.J. Gaudet, W.I. Gustafson, A.M. Mahon, and W.J. Shaw, et al. 2022. Offshore Reanalysis Wind Speed Assessment Across the Wind Turbine Rotor Layer off the United States Pacific Coast. Wind Energy Science 7, no. 5:2059–2084. PNNL-SA-169723. doi:10.5194/wes-7-2059-2022

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