Wind farm settlement in Argentina is likely to be initiated in the extended and uniform Pampa del Castillo tablelands (5100 km2) in central cast Patagonia, due to its suitable wind regime and local economic factors. The magnitude of these investments requires not only a detailed wind energy assessment and optimum site selection but also a comprehensive evaluation of the extreme winds experienced in the region.

Statistical results, with emphasis on severe winds, of two regional programs of one-year observations at four levels above the ground are presented in this paper. The highest frequencies of hourly mean wind velocities above 40, 60, and 80 km h−1 are observed during November and December. The spring power spectrum shows a considerable amount of energy in components with a periodicity ranging from 2.5 to 4 days. Severe wind episodes are usually related to the displacement of low pressure systems from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean through the Drake Passage with a periodicity consistent with spectral results. The highest hourly mean wind speed registered in each experimental period (at 60 m AGL) is about 25 m s−1. The estimated modal value of the theoretical probability distribution of annual extreme values is in good agreement with observed values. The annual peak gust for an averaging time of 240 s is about 27 m s. The gust factor was computed for different averaging intervals and compared with empirical formulations. Its variation with height and time of year was also analyzed. The general form of the vertical wind profile and its dependence on stability conditions was characterized and compared with that of typical episodes of severe winds.

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