Can Wind Turbines Survive Hurricanes?

  • By: Preetam
  • Date: July 25, 2021
  • Time to read: 5 min.

There is a chance that wind turbines will be one of our main ways of generating power in the future. 

However, a big concern many people have is whether these long, bulky bits of kit are capable of dealing with hurricanes. 

After all, their height has been designed to ensure that they get right into the heart of the strongest winds.

That is exactly what we want to discuss on this page and a few of the concerns that engineers have about strong winds and wind turbines.

Can Wind Turbines Survive Hurricanes?

Yes. At the moment, most wind turbines are rated to deal with winds up to 94mph. 

This means that they are capable of dealing with category 1 storms. 

So, if the wind turbine is on land, they are going to be capable of dealing with most of the high winds that will hit land.

In recent years, many wind turbines have been built that can deal with up to 140mph winds. 

This means that they can deal with category 4 hurricanes.

Now, this doesn’t mean that wind turbines are not able to survive hurricanes that have winds stronger than what they are rated for. 

In fact, most of them can. We have seen wind turbines that are rated for category 1 storms survive winds that are much more intense than what they are rated for.

Based on what we have seen, it seems that the wind turbines are not really going to be the problem in the midst of a big storm. 

Those very rarely break. 

They may need a small number of repairs here and there, but nothing too crazy. 

The main issue seems to be the powerlines that carry the power from the wind turbine to wherever the power needs to go. 

They are absolutely not capable of dealing with hurricanes. 

Although, that is probably not going to be too much of an issue. 

The fact is that most of these power cables can easily be repaired. 

This has been a problem for as long as we have been ferrying electricity from one location to another.

Can Offshore Wind Turbines Survive Hurricanes?

This is where we actually start to run into a few issues.

As you may well know, wind levels are a lot higher off the coast than they are on land. 

This means that any offshore wind turbines are going to be dealing with heavier winds than on land. 

Since it is likely that most wind turbines in the future are going to be built offshore, this is going to cause a few problems.

At the time of writing, there haven’t been any major storms that have wiped out an offshore wind farm. 

While some damage has been caused, nothing has knocked a wind farm off for long periods of time. 

However, scientists fear that this is something that is going to happen eventually.

We have seen wind farms survive a category 5 hurricane. 

However, some scientists and engineers believe that this is down to sheer luck rather than quality engineering.

There is currently a fear that the combination of high winds and heavy waves could cause wind turbines to twist and turn in the weather. 

There is a strong fear that this could cause severe damage to the blades. 

Some engineers believe that if the design of offshore wind turbines is not changed, there will eventually be a point where we can see catastrophic damage to offshore wind farms during the heaviest of storms.

Do Wind Turbines Work During a Hurricane?

The idea behind a wind turbine is that the more wind hitting the wind turbine, the faster the blade spins. 

The faster that blade spins, the more electricity is generated. 

Therefore, it is only sensible to think that a hurricane would be good for wind power generation. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Most wind turbines are designed to operate in winds between 8mph and 55mph. 

The sweet point for the wind turbine will be around the 30mph mark.

Inside the wind turbine is a controller. There will be various sensors that check the wind speed. 

If the wind speed goes outside of the rated range of the wind turbine, the blades will be locked up. 

Therefore, the wind turbine will not be generating power.

This happens because if the blades spin too fast, they will be putting a huge amount of strain on the motor of the wind turbine. 

So, a wind turbine that is constantly battered by high winds is going to die a lot quicker than one that remains operating within normal ranges.

So, the answer is that wind turbines will not actually work during a hurricane. Well, if the wind speed goes beyond the capabilities of the wind turbine. 

This means that places that receive power from wind farms may find that power availability will fall during hurricanes. 

This is a problem that is likely going to need to be dealt with in the future, especially as more wind farms are built.

If wind turbine engineers can push the maximum capabilities of a wind turbine up by 10-20mph, then the wind turbine is likely going to function a lot better during storms.

Final Word

Wind turbines can absolutely survive hurricanes. 

While there is a little bit of a concern that offshore wind turbines are not going to be able to cope with regular category 5 storms. 

This is likely something that is going to change in the future.

Wind turbines can easily survive hurricanes on land, though. 

In fact, some have been able to cope with category 4 storms on land. 

The wind turbine is likely not going to be able to generate any power during this time because the wind turbine blades will be locked once they hit a certain speed. 

But, as soon as that wind dies down, the wind turbine will switch back on and generate power again.

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