Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Assessment Project

LIDAR Buoy rendering.Buoy dedication, October 7, 2011.

Above, the AXYS WindSentinel, a cornerstone for data collection in the Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Assessment Project.  The buoy serves as a research platform and uses LIDAR to sample wind speeds at multiple altitudes.  Following its dedication on October 7, 2011, it was deployed and is on station in Lake Michigan four miles offshore near its home port of Muskegon.  The WindSentinel is only the third of its kind to be deployed anywhere and is the first that will make its wind data publicly available.  For more photos, click on any of the images above.

 Video of 2012 Wind Research Buoy Deployment



2013 Buoy removal from icy Lake Michigan

Buoy removal from icy Lake Michigan

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View Video here

By Dave Alexander |
Originally published on

MUSKEGON, MI – The Grand Valley State University wind research platform has ended its three-year research mission with its dramatic removal from Lake Michigan in late December.

The GVSU wind buoy spent the 2013 season 6.5 miles off the Muskegon County shoreline between Muskegon and White Lake in Lake Michigan. Unlike the first two research seasons, bringing the 10-by-19-foot floating platform back to shore was a winter challenge, according to GVSU Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center Director Arn Boezaart.

As was the case in past seasons when winter ice conditions were non-existent in late December, the retrieval of the buoy Dec. 21 was done by the Muskegon-based Andrie Specialized crew of the 70-foot Meredith Ashton tugboat.

“This was a good test for the buoy and its equipment in some serious winter conditions,” Boezaart said of Andrie efforts to break the ice from the Grand Trunk Dock on Muskegon Lake to the channel while working in extreme conditions on Lake Michigan.

The bottom line was the electronics and the wind and environmental data collection equipment worked without a hitch, but the buoy itself was hampered by ice buildup, Boezaart said. Several tons of “spray ice” had built up on the bow railing of the platform, diving the buoy into the water and necessitating the ice removal before it could be hauled back to port, he said.

Continued on




About the Buoy Data Analysis Research Seasons Photos Links


Funding Partners
us doe logoMichigan Public Service Commission.U of M logo.Sierra Club logo


Research Partners


GVSU Padnos College of Engin and Computing logo

U of M College of Engineering logoU of M School of Natural Resources & Environment logo Mich Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute logoMich Natural Features Inventory logo

MAREC buoy on station in Lake Michigan, Nov. 2011.

Grand Valley State University (GVSU) and its Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) working in partnership with; GVSU’s Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, the University of Michigan and its Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, (MMPEI) and the Michigan Natural Features Inventory of Michigan State University Extension (MNFI) have secured funding for the Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Assessment Project.   

The principal objective of the project is to develop a better understanding of offshore wind resources as well as other physical, biological and environmental conditions on Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes in general, as precursor activity to the future development of offshore wind energy technology.

The project received $1.4 Million in initial funding support from the U.S. Department of Energy (US-DOE) through a congressional allocation initiated by U.S. Congressman Peter Hoekstra representing Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District. Required local match funding support was obtained from the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) with a $1.33 Million grant award. Additional project funding in the amount of $260,084 is being provided by the University of Michigan.

As a result of growing interest in the project by environmental organizations, wind development interests and other renewable energy interests, the project was expanded in scope. Additional project funding is being provided by We Energies, a state of Wisconsin utility in the amount of $250,000, and the Great Lakes office of the Sierra Club  with a $30,000 grant contribution.

The project will deploy an extended season offshore wind assessment research buoy that will feature the use of LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) laser light pulse technology as an alternative to traditional cup anemometer wind measurement instrumentation. The project will conduct correlation studies, in part, by using near-shore MET tower locations in conjunction with the State of Michigan Tall Towers project and other shore based towers. 

The GVSU buoy will be deployed in multiple locations over the life of the project, including the mid-lake plateau region of Lake Michigan. In addition to the measurement of wind, the GVSU buoy includes equipment to assess water quality, conduct aquatic studies, as well as avian (bird and bat) activity.

The project will follow-up on the work and study results of the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Council (GLOW) appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm in January of 2009. The GLOW Council and other recent Great Lakes studies have identified the need for additional research of year-round wind conditions and related environmental factors critical to future development of  off-shore wind energy technology on the Great Lakes.

Identified as a rich and abundant source of alternative (wind) energy, the Great Lakes are presently being considered as a potential source for meeting a significant portion of our renewable energy needs in the Great Lakes region in the decades to come. The Offshore Wind Assessment Project hopes to contribute to a greater understanding of this significant renewable energy resource.


   Contact  James B. Edmonson, project manager  |





GVSU / MAREC Receives Approval to Launch Offshore Lake Michigan Wind Study,  March 24, 2011

Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Assessment Project Overview - PSC presentation March 29, 2001 (pdf)

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Page last modified March 24, 2015