A Twenty-Year Analysis of Winds in California for Offshore Wind Energy Production Using WRF v4.1.2

Alex Rybchuk, Mike Optis, Julie Lundquist, Michael Rossol, Walt Musial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Offshore wind resource characterization in the United States relies heavily on simulated winds from numerical weather prediction (NWP) models, given the lack of hub-height observations offshore. One such NWP data set used extensively by U.S. stakeholders is the Wind Integration National Dataset (WIND) Toolkit, a 7-year time-series data set produced in 2013 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. In this study, we present an update to that data set for offshore California that leverages recent advancements in NWP modeling capabilities and extends the period of record to a full 20 years. The data set predicts a significantly larger wind resource (0.25–1.75 m s-1 stronger), including in three Call Areas that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is considering for commercial activity. We conduct a set of yearlong simulations to study factors that contribute to this increase in the modeled wind resource. The largest impact arises from a change in the planetary boundary layer parameterization from the Yonsei University scheme to the Mellor-Yamada-Nakanishi-Niino scheme and their diverging wind profiles under stable stratification. Additionally, we conduct a refined wind resource assessment at the three Call Areas, characterizing distributions of wind speed, shear, veer, stability, frequency of wind droughts, and power production. We find that, depending on the attribute, the new data set can show substantial disagreement with the WIND Toolkit, thereby driving important changes in predicted power.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalGeoscientific Model Development
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-79078


  • numerical weather prediction
  • offshore wind
  • wind resource assessment


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