Assessing the Costs and Risks of Novel Wind Turbine Applications
This thesis addresses the cost-effectiveness of curtailing a wind farm to regulate the electrical grid frequency and the hurricane risk to offshore wind farms in the eastern United States. Additionally, this thesis presents a new method to generate long periods of non-stationary wind speed time series data sampled at high rates by combining measured and simulated data.
Paper 1 calculates the cost of curtailing the power output of a wind farm to provide a reserve of power to regulate the electrical grid frequency, as required by grid operators in several countries with high wind-power penetrations. The simulations in Paper 1 show that it is most efficient to curtail a few turbines deeply rather than curtail all turbines in a wind farm equally. Compared to regulation prices in the Texas (ERCOT) market in 2007-2009, a curtailed wind farm would be cost-competitive with conventional generators less than 1% of the time.
Paper 2 supports the simulations in Paper 1 by developing a method to combine long periods of low-frequency wind speed data with realistic simulated high-frequency turbulence. The combined time series of wind speeds retains the non-stationary characteristics of wind speed, such as diurnal variations, the passing of weather fronts, and seasonal variations, but gives a much higher sampling rate.
Papers 3 and 4 estimate the hurricane risks to current designs of offshore wind turbines in the U.S. Paper 3 develops analytical probability distributions based on historical hurricane records to predict the distribution of damages to a single wind farm in a given location. Paper 4 uses simulated hurricanes with realistic statistical properties to estimate the correlated risks to all the wind farms in a region and estimate the distribution of aggregate losses over different periods. Both papers find hurricane risks are small for current turbine designs in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, but the risks in the Gulf of Mexico and the Southeast are significant enough to warrant new, stronger designs. Hurricane risks could be reduced almost an order of magnitude by ensuring that turbines can continue yawing to track the wind direction even if grid power is lost.