Wind Farms Withstand Hurricane Harvey, But the Test Is Yet to Come
Reports so far indicate wind farms near the Texas coast have weathered their first hurricane very well.
As more wind farms are being built across the state, the question of whether they could withstand hurricane-force winds was on the minds of electric providers, and while the wind experienced in Hurricane Harvey were somewhat mild, little or no damage was reported at farms near the coast.
Pattern Energy Group's Gulf Wind Farm not far from Corpus Christi stayed in service as Harvey moved in August 26th and no problems were reported, though the farm was on what meteorologists call the "clean side" of the storm, meaning the southwest side that doesn't push as much wind and rain during landfall as does the northeast side of the storm.
According to Pattern, Gulf Wind received winds up to 50 miles an hour, just below the 55 mph maximum that turbines are designed to withstand, and according to the American Wind Energy Association a number of South Texas farms were shut down as a precautionary measure, and all are back online.
E.ON SE's Papalote Creek farm near Corpus Christi was shut down for the storm and returned to full power production last Friday, with a delay only for inspection and because nearby power lines were down.
The Wall St. Journal notes that the Papalote Creek site withstood winds up to 90 miles an hour, the eqivalent of a milder Category One hurricane.
At higher wind speeds, turbines are designed to shut down at maximum rated speeds and turn their blades parallel to the wind to prevent damage.
Experts would expect damage to wind farms in stronger Category Three and higher hurricanes, a situation not yet seen in the modern era of wind power.
A 2013 Category Three storm did extensive damage to a wind farm in China
Can wind farms survive the blunt hurricane force of stronger winds? Experts say we'll have to wait until the situation arises, but as the Journal reports, offshore wind farms are another story.
The first offshore farms have only recently gone into production off Rhode Island, and one researcher has found them likely not able to withstand hurricane force winds.
By Mike Shiloh
Copyright September 11, 2017, Mike Shiloh, Texas Energy Report LLC, www.texasenergyreport.com, All rights are reserved