Offshore hurricanes could demolish half the turbines in proposed wind farms just off the USA's coastlines, according to a study out Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"We find that hurricanes pose a significant risk to wind turbines off the U.S. Gulf and East coasts, even if they are designed to the most stringent current standard," the authors from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh write.
Engineer Stephen Rose and colleagues estimated that over a 20-year span many turbine towers would buckle in wind farms enduring hurricane-force winds off the coasts of four states — Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Texas — where offshore wind-farm projects are now under consideration.
Wind turbines are vulnerable to hurricanes because the maximum wind speeds in those storms can exceed the current design limits of wind turbines, according to the study.
Failures can include loss of blades and buckling of the supporting tower.