RWE Innogy is partnering with Carbon Trust's Offshore Wind Accelerator program to test new methods of collecting wind-speed data at the site of the 576 MW Gwynt y Mor offshore wind farm.
Two light detection and ranging (LIDAR) units will be mounted on buoys and temporarily installed 10 miles off the northern coast of Wales, close to the existing met mast at the Gwynt y Mor offshore wind farm. Both units will collect wind data that will then be compared with information from the met mast.
One of the prototypes, developed by Belgium-based FLiDAR, floats on the waves and is undergoing a trial for wave motion compensation. This prototype has already been successfully used in the Belgian North Sea for accurate wind data collection, RWE Innogy says.
The other measuring buoy, manufactured by U.K.-based Babcock International Group, is currently under construction and is characterized by its low-motion buoy design.
Both prototypes will be towed by ship to the chosen measuring site, where they will be anchored to the seabed. Electricity will be supplied by photovoltaic panels and micro wind turbines installed on the buoy.
Like a conventional met mast, the buoys will supply weather data on wind velocities and wind direction. These trial laser-based measuring systems will be used to record wind velocity and wind direction both horizontally and vertically up to a height of 200 meters.
The trials were initiated by the Carbon Trust's Offshore Wind Accelerator program, which aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind power by 10% by 2015. Participants include RWE Innogy, DONG Energy, E.ON, Mainstream, Scottish Power, SSE, Statkraft and Statoil.
"The construction of measuring stations is an important step towards recording and analyzing local wind conditions," says Paul Coffey, RWE Innogy's chief operating officer. "The data is of fundamental significance for the development, construction and operation of offshore wind power plants."
The first results of the trials are expected to be available in 2013.