TRB Special Report 305: Structural Integrity of Offshore Wind Turbines: Oversight of Design, Fabrication, and Installation explores the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) approach to overseeing the development and safe operation of wind turbines on the outer continental shelf, with a focus on structural safety. The committee that developed the report recommended that in order to facilitate the orderly development of offshore wind energy and support the stable economic development of this nascent industry, the United States needs a set of clear requirements that can accommodate future design development.
The report recommends that BOEMRE develop a set of requirements that establish goals and objectives with regard to structural integrity, environmental performance, and energy generation. The committee found that the risks to human life and the environment associated with offshore wind farms are substantially lower than for other industries such as offshore oil and gas, because offshore wind farms are primarily unmanned and contain minimal quantities of hazardous substances. This finding implies that an approach with significantly less regulatory oversight may be taken for offshore wind farms. Under this approach, industry would be responsible for proposing sets of standards, guidelines, and recommended practices that meet the performance requirements established by BOEMRE.
The domestic industry can build on standards, guidelines, and practices developed in Europe, where the offshore wind energy is further developed, but will have to fill gaps such as the need to address wave and wind loadings encountered in hurricanes. The report also includes findings and recommendations about the role that certified verification agents (third party evaluators) can play in reviewing packages of standards and project-specific proposals.