A research buoy collecting data for Grand Valley State University's (GVSU) offshore wind assessment has been placed 35 miles off the shore of Lake Michigan, where it will remain until December, GVSU reports.
The buoy will continuously collect data about offshore wind characteristics – along with meteorological, marine and avian data – to help assess the viability of commercial-scale wind energy generation in the Great Lakes.
The buoy can now collect wind measurements up to 175 meters high, which is the same height as the wind turbines currently being marketed.
"The data collected will have considerable "shelf life' value for research purposes," says Arn Boezaart, director of GVSU's Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center. "Using a floating research platform to collect wind measurements that high up has never been done before on the Great Lakes or in North America.
"This is also the first time a research buoy of this type will operate this far offshore," he adds. "Project supporters across North America are eagerly waiting for the research results."
According to Jim Edmonson, project manager of the study, these measurements will be especially interesting because the mid-lake plateau, where the buoy was placed, is expected to have very high wind energy potential.
Data retrieval from the buoy will take place mainly by satellite due to its remote location. In order to comply with regulatory requirements, a lake-bottom survey was completed to inspect the location where the five-ton anchor was dropped.
The research buoy is a six-ton, boat-shaped structure that can measure wind characteristics up to 175 meters above the water using advanced laser pulse and Doppler wind sensing technology in remote locations. It was constructed by British Columbia-based AXYS Technologies and is equipped with a Vindicator laser wind sensor manufactured by Virginia-based Catch the Wind Inc.