The Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, partnering with Grand Valley State University, has won a $1.3 million grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission to advance the deployment of offshore wind technology.
The two universities will explore the complex issues surrounding harnessing the wind to generate electricity.
Dennis Assanis, U-M’s energy institute director, said the challenges are both technical – better understanding wind distribution and performance of turbines buffeted by harsh weather and ice – to legislative issues such as permits and leases; to environmental impacts.
The multidisciplinary project’s concept is to collect year-round wind data at turbine height for three years, to help answer questions concerning the optimal sites for the offshore wind industry in Michigan.
The state grant will be added to $1.4 million in Department of Energy money already won by the project team. Some $5 million in private funding also is needed. Assanis said the grant will be an “attractive down payment” to industry partners to fund more expansive experiments.
“It takes places like the University of Michigan that has the capabilities to explore many related aspects of the same challenge with strong partners to make great strides,” Assanis said.
The project calls for installing a meteorological tower and research platform to collect data. As there are no offshore wind turbines in Lake Michigan, Assanis refers to this as the first “wet run” for the state.
Assanis serves on the Great Lakes Wind Council, an advisory body within the Department of Energy, Labor, and Economic Growth that provides citizens with a public forum to begin to identify where, in the Great Lakes, wind energy systems may be prudently sited.