After nearly two months of preliminary tests on Lake Michigan, the research buoy that is collecting data for the offshore wind assessment was moved onshore, where it will continue to operate this winter.
The research buoy’s placement next to the lake will allow researchers to continue to collect and analyze meaningful wind data, said Arn Boezaart, director of Grand Valley’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center. “This will be the first time a WindSentinel buoy with laser pulse wind measurement technology will operate in winter weather conditions, and because it’s one of only two in existence, the manufacturers are eager to observe how it will operate,” he said.
Boezaart said the two-month test period went very well and yielded highly valuable information. “November and December are two of the most robust and challenging months on the Great Lakes, so it was a good field test of the research buoy’s capability,” he said. “The hardware and operating systems performed well for the most part and we learned some things that will be worked on in the coming months.”
Boezaart also said that using a floating research platform to collect one-second wind measurements up to 150 meters high has never been done before on the Great Lakes or in North America.
The research buoy will remain on the pier near the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s research laboratory, the same location where it was dedicated last October. A live camera of the buoy on the seawall can be viewed here. In early spring of 2012, the buoy will be placed in Lake Michigan, 35 miles offshore between Muskegon and Milwaukee.
Boezaart said preliminary highlights of the data collected by the buoy and analyzed by faculty and student researchers from the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing will be released before the buoy is deployed in March.
About the wind assessment project
The primary objective of the Lake Michigan offshore wind assessment project is to gain a better understanding of offshore wind characteristics and dynamics, as well as potential wind energy. Other related physical, biological and environmental characteristics related to Great Lakes wind will be evaluated. The research will provide information for the future development of offshore wind energy technology.
About the WindSentinel research buoy
The research buoy, one of two such research platforms in the world, is an eight-ton, 20-by-10 foot boat-shaped structure that can measure wind characteristics up to 150 meters above the water using advanced laser pulse wind sensing technology. It was constructed by AXYS Technologies of British Columbia, and is equipped with a Vindicator laser wind sensor manufactured by Catch the Wind Inc. of Virginia.
Offshore Wind Staff , January 10, 2012 ; Image: gvsu