The U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has announced it is commissioning two buoys fitted with meteorological and oceanographic equipment in order to help enable more accurate predictions of the U.S.' offshore wind power potential.
The two 20,000-pound buoys – each worth $1.3 million – are being commissioned and tested by the PNNL in Washington state's Sequim Bay. AXYS Technologies Inc. manufactured the buoys, which carry a bevy of instruments, including LIDAR and acoustic Doppler sensors. Starting in November, they will be deployed for up to a year, with one located near Coos Bay, Ore., and the other near Virginia Beach, Va.
‘We know offshore winds are powerful, but these buoys will allow us to better understand exactly how strong they really are at the heights of wind turbines,’ explains Will Shaw, a PNNL atmospheric scientist. ‘Data provided by the buoys will give us a much clearer picture of how much power can be generated at specific sites along the American coastline – and enable us to generate that clean, renewable power sooner.’
The PNNL notes that although a recent report estimates the U.S. could power nearly 17 million homes by generating more than 54 GW of offshore wind energy, more information is still needed.