USA: UMBC, MEA Partner Up for Offshore Wind

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USA: UMBC, MEA Partner Up for Offshore Wind

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) have announced a new partnership to advance research for the strategic planning and development of offshore wind energy projects.

Under this partnership, UMBC will draw on its expertise with light detection and ranging, or LIDAR, to conduct critical wind speed and direction modeling in the ocean environment.

“This is an excellent opportunity for us to use the skills and expertise of UMBC’s world-class LIDAR research group to characterize Maryland’s offshore wind resources,” says William LaCourse, dean of UMBC’s College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences.

Traditionally, large meteorological towers driven into the seabed were required to measure wind speed and direction offshore at the height of a wind turbine rotor. Data developed by these towers is very reliable; however they can only provide data at a single geographic point. Now, offshore wind stakeholders around the world are utilizing LIDAR to develop mobile remote sensing systems that can provide wind speed and directional data wherever it is needed in an ocean environment.

“The passage of the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 is a big win for our State: a win for jobs, a win for consumers, a win for business, and a win for our energy future—an energy future which is cleaner, greener, and more sustainable,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, Acting Director of the Maryland Energy Administration. “The research gathered by this partnership will allow our state to reap the economic and environmental, clean energy benefits of offshore wind.”

LIDAR technology shoots lasers into the air and measures the reflection and refraction of that energy as the laser bounces off aerosols or small dust particles in the air. By tracking the “red shift” or Doppler effect of this energy, researchers can characterize the speed, power and direction of airborne particles carried by the wind. Unlike a traditional anemometer, which only provides data at a single altitude, LIDAR can provide accurate information about wind shear, or differences in wind speed at different altitudes.

“LIDAR remote sensing is an efficient and economical alternative that allows us to measure winds across several heights, from the ocean surface to above the full height of the tallest turbines built,” Ruben Delgado, a UMBC researcher and principal investigator on the initiative added. The contract, which is funded for $890,000, is expected to last 3 years.


Press release, May 22, 2013

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