First Offshore Wind Research Buoys Deployed Off US West Coast

First Offshore Wind Research Buoys Deployed Off US West Coast

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Wind Energy Technologies Office has deployed two offshore wind research buoys off the coast of California.


The buoys come as part of the research funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to gather data to support decisions on potential leasing of wind energy sites offshore California.

Managed by DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the buoys are the first to be launched to gather meteorological and oceanographic measurements off the West Coast.

One buoy is stationed in approximately 625 meters of water off Humboldt County along the northern coast, with the second deployed in about 1,000 meters of water off Morro Bay along the central coastline.

They were deployed previously from 2014 through 2017 off the coasts of New Jersey and Virginia, providing data to support offshore wind development off the East Coast.

Earlier this year, the buoys underwent an upgrade which included more powerful lidars that provide wind data up to 250m above the sea surface, as well as moving the associated data management system to an open-source platform for easier data access by the wind scientific community at large.

Analysis of the buoy data will be used to validate wind models, improve the understanding of air-sea interactions, and reduce uncertainty and risk in characterizing offshore wind resources.

“The buoys are stationed off the coast of California in deep water and will gather wind measurements for 12 months,” said PNNL’s Alicia Gorton, who oversees the buoys and the deployments.

“The measurements they obtain will provide BOEM and offshore wind stakeholders with the most accurate and detailed information needed to make solid decisions regarding wind energy development, such as siting and design considerations.”