Seasonal Variability of Wake Impacts on US Mid-Atlantic Offshore Wind Plant Power Production

David Rosencrans, Julie Lundquist, Mike Optis, Alex Rybchuk, Nicola Bodini, Michael Rossol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus Citations


The mid-Atlantic will experience rapid wind plant development due to its promising wind resource located near large population centers. Wind turbines and wind plants create wakes, or regions of reduced wind speed, that may negatively affect downwind turbines and plants. We evaluate wake variability and annual energy production with the first yearlong modeling assessment using the Weather Research and Forecasting model, deploying 12 MW turbines across the domain at a density of 3.14 MW km-2, matching the planned density of 3 MW km-2. Using a series of simulations with no wind plants, one wind plant, and complete build-out of lease areas, we calculate wake effects and distinguish the effect of wakes generated internally within one plant from those generated externally between plants. We also provide a first step towards uncertainty quantification by testing the amount of added turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) by 0% and 100%. We provide a sensitivity analysis by additionally comparing 25% and 50% for a short case study period. The strongest wakes, propagating 55 km, occur in summertime stable stratification, just when New England's grid demand peaks in summer. The seasonal variability of wakes in this offshore region is much stronger than the diurnal variability of wakes. Overall, yearlong simulated wake impacts reduce power output by a range between 38.2% and 34.1% (for 0%-100% added TKE). Internal wakes cause greater yearlong power losses, from 29.2% to 25.7%, compared to external wakes, from 14.7% to 13.4%. The overall impact is different from the linear sum of internal wakes and external wakes due to non-linear processes. Additional simulations quantify wake uncertainty by modifying the added amount of turbulent kinetic energy from wind turbines, introducing power output variability of 3.8%. Finally, we compare annual energy production to New England grid demand and find that the lease areas can supply 58.8% to 61.2% of annual load. We note that the results of this assessment are not intended to make nor are they suitable to make commercial judgments about specific wind projects.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)555-583
Number of pages29
JournalWind Energy Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

See NREL/JA-5000-84685 for article as published in Wind Energy Science Discussions

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-89683


  • turbulence kinetic energy
  • wake variability
  • wind plants


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