Characterizing Wave Energy Resources for Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico, and U.S Virgin Islands Using an Ultra High-Resolution Wave Model

Nabi Allahdadi, North Carolina State University Raleigh, Raleigh, NC, United States, Ruoying He, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC, United States, Chris Chartrand, Sandia National Laboratories, Albequerque, NM, United States and Vincent S Neary, Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM, United States
An Ultra high-resolution unstructured wave model with 200 meters coastal resolution and more than 5.7 million mesh grid points is developed to quantify wave energy resources along the U.S Coasts in the Gulf of Mexico, Puerto Rico, and U.S Virgin Islands. The modeling, based on SWAN, follows the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC) technical specifications for setup, verification, and validation. Model analysis showed that simulated wave heights and energy periods, and thereby wave energy, are very sensitive to the computational timestep and that wave energy is significantly underestimated if a timestep larger than 5 minutes is used, especially during the tropical storms and hurricanes. Model calibration and verification are performed using standard IEC wave parameters and spectra at 14 buoys located in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and off the Puerto Rico coasts. Extensive verifications are done for a three-year period from 2007 to 2009. To comply with the IEC standards, the statistical metrics including correlation coefficient, RMSE, Bias, and scatter index are calculated to verify six significant parameters required by the IEC standard. The calibrated model configuration is being used for a long-term characterization of wave energy in the study area from 1979 to 2011. Wave resource assessment, along with the partitioned outputs that include different components of seas and swell will subsequently be applied to identify wave energy hotspots in the region and to facilitate optimized design for the wave energy convertors in the future.