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Developing Design Wind Speeds for Transmission and Distribution Lines in Belize and Accounting for Climate Change

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  • Create Date October 11, 2021
  • Last Updated October 11, 2021

Developing Design Wind Speeds for Transmission and Distribution Lines in Belize and Accounting for Climate Change

Developing Design Wind Speeds for Transmission and Distribution Lines in Belize and Accounting for Climate Change: Belize sits in a hurricane prone region adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico. Existing practice for the design of overhead powerlines is based on wind speeds from a selected hurricane category (Saffir-Simpson scale), depending on line voltage and geography. To provide more predictable reliability, Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) commissioned a study to produce evidence-based wind speeds to use when designing their transmission and distribution lines. This paper summarizes the study, analysis, and recommendations given historical measured wind gusts and separately accounts for storm intensity projections due to climate change predictions.
To align guidance with reliability-based design practices, a mean recurrence interval (MRI) was established for the desired reliability at both transmission and distribution voltages, with the importance of high voltage lines to grid stability driving the decision for a 100-year MRI while a 50-year MRI was chosen for distribution infrastructure. Three regions, Exposed Island, Coastal, and Inland, were defined to account for the decay of storms after landfall, with greatest wind speeds expected on the country’s islands on the Gulf of Mexico.
To account for climate change, a survey of climate models and research on the effect on tropical storm intensity was conducted. Climate models are a current topic of research and not yet conclusive, presenting challenges to developing guidance. To date, potential wind speed increases have not been incorporated in the design code wind maps in American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) standards (ASCE, 2019). Current studies primarily address trends at the basin level, while some specific work has been done at locations along the US coast; however, no data for design wind increases exists specifically addressing Belize. This paper attempts to apply overall trends to the wind speed maps (presented herein) and verify against analogous locations along the US coast where more detailed analysis exists.

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Belize Design Wind Speed Report - TSDOS -.pdf