Likelihood of a marine vessel accident from wind energy development in the Atlantic

Research paper by Andrea Copping, Stephen Breithaupt, Jonathan Whiting, Molly Grear, Jerry Tagestad, Gregory Shelton

Indexed on: 10 Mar '16Published on: 02 Nov '15Published in: Wind Energy


Offshore wind energy development is planned for areas off the Atlantic coast. Many of the planned wind development areas fall within traditional commercial vessel routes. In order to mitigate possible hazards to ships and to wind turbines, it is important to understand the potential for increased risk to commercial shipping from the presence of wind farms. Risk is identified as the likelihood that an occurrence will happen, and the consequences of that occurrence, should it occur. This paper deals with the likelihood of commercial vessel accidents, because of the development of offshore wind energy along the US Atlantic coast. Using Automatic Identification System (AIS) data, historical shipping routes between ports in the Atlantic were identified, from Maine to the Florida Straits. The AIS data were also used as inputs to a numerical model that can simulate cargo, tanker and tug/towing vessel movement along typical routes. The model was used to recreate present day vessel movement, as well as to simulate future routing that may be required to avoid wind farms. By comparing the present and future routing of vessels, an analysis of potential maritime accidents was used to determine the increased marginal risk of vessel collisions, groundings and allisions with stationary objects, because of the presence of wind farms. The outcome of the analysis showed little increase in vessel collisions or allisions, and a decrease in groundings as more vessels were forced seaward by the wind farms. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.