Oct. 7, 2011
MUSKEGON, Mich. – A rare vessel never before seen on the Great Lakes arrived just north of Muskegon this month, providing researchers with a powerful, custom-built tool to assess the potential for harvesting offshore wind energy.
Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in partnership with scientists from the University of Michigan and the Michigan Natural Features Inventory of Michigan State University dedicated the eight-ton, 10-foot-by-20-foot WindSentinel buoy on Oct. 7. Equipped with a laser sensor that can measure wind characteristics up to 150 meters above the water, the research platform was acquired through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE).
“This represents a long-term scientific investment in the Great Lakes region,” said U-M Professor Guy Meadows, director of the Ocean Engineering Lab, noting that the buoy will help answer “fundamental questions” about not only wind energy on the lakes and its promise for providing clean and renewable energy for the region, but also yield key information that could enhance search and rescue operations as well as predictions of wave activity and lake effect snow.
Meadows recently led a site analysis for the buoy, which will be placed this fall roughly four miles west of Muskegon in Lake Michigan. In the coming years, the buoy will be tethered at alternate sites on the lake to provide a range of real-time data on offshore wind as well as other physical, biological and environmental conditions on the Great Lakes. The data will better inform the potential development of offshore wind technology.
“The research buoy represents and amazing new capacity for wind research in the Great Lakes,” said Arn Boezaart, director of GVSU’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center. “It includes the most advanced wind measurement technology available.”
In addition to DoE, wind assessment funding partners have included the Michigan Public Service Commission, We Energies, and the Sierra Club. The WindSentinel was built by AXYS Technologies of British Columbia and features a Vindicator laser developed by Virginia’s Catch the Wind Inc.
Contact: Paul Gargaro, Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, 734-615-5678, email@example.com.