The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has funded a research collaboration, led by Dr. Thomas Herrington of Stevens Institute of Technology, to evaluate a new method for measuring offshore wind speeds. According to the institute's Center for Maritime Systems (CMS), the project aims to make assessing wind farm locations faster and cheaper using inland-based LIDAR research stations.
To overcome limitations in the current standard of vertically profiling LIDAR, Herrington and his partners are pioneering the use of scanning LIDAR that measures both vertically and horizontally. Researchers can now place a LIDAR station on a building along the coast and measure the wind field in three dimensions out to 20 nautical miles offshore.
According to CMS, this presents an advantage over past LIDAR schemes that suffered problems of performance and cost, requiring either the use of buoys, which complicate measurements due to their motions, or the construction of expensive offshore platforms.
‘The combined resources of the project collaborators will allow us to compare extensive data from existing inland and offshore sensors with novel measurements from the scanning LIDAR,’ Herrington explains. ‘This will allow us to validate the system's accuracy, as well as investigate fundamental research questions about how ocean conditions affect offshore winds."
The ultimate goal of the collaboration is to address the technical and commercial challenges of the offshore wind industry by certifying and assessing cost-effective wind resource characterization technologies. Although the project's initial focus will be on the Mid-Atlantic – especially New Jersey coastal wind resources – the proof-of-concept can be applied to capitalize on wind resources anywhere in the world, CMS notes.
The funding for the project represents one of 41 grants awarded by the DOE to offshore wind power last month.