A research buoy was dedicated near Lake Michigan on October 7 that will aid the offshore wind assessment study conducted by Grand Valley, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University.
The research buoy, one of three in the world, is an eight-ton, 20-by-10 foot boat-shaped structure that can measure wind characteristics up to 150 meters above the water using advanced wind sensor technology.
"The buoy for the offshore wind study is a symbol of forward thinking and economic development opportunities for West Michigan," said Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas.
The launch of the buoy in the Great Lakes is the first introduction of this technology anywhere in North America, said Arn Boezaart, director of the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center. “The research buoy represents an amazing new capacity for wind research in the Great Lakes," he said. "It includes the most advanced wind measurement technology available."
Following a week of tests on Muskegon Lake, the buoy will move four miles offshore on Lake Michigan for a month-long trial.
Real-time data will be transmitted from the platform to researchers at Grand Valley, U-M and the Michigan Natural Features Inventory of Michigan State University. The research will provide information to support possible future development of offshore wind energy technology in the Great Lakes. MNFI research will focus on bird and bat flight patterns and migration studies.
The primary objective of the Lake Michigan offshore wind assessment is to gain a better understanding of the potential of offshore wind energy, as well as other physical, biological and environmental conditions on the Great Lakes. The research will provide information for the future development of offshore wind energy technology. In June 2010, the project secured $3.3 million in grants and research funds, including a $1.33 million energy efficiency grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission.
The WindSentinel buoy was constructed by AXYS Technologies of British Columbia, and will come equipped with a Vindicator laser wind sensor manufactured by Catch the Wind Inc. of Virginia. Funding partners include the U.S. Department of Energy, Michigan Public Service Commission, We Energies, U-M and Sierra Club.