The buoy is manufactured by AXYS Technologies Inc. of Sidney, British Columbia, Canada. It will come equipped with a laser wind sensor manufactured by Catch the Wind of Virginia to measure offshore wind conditions. The buoy will serve as a platform, with the technology secured on top.
“This is the first time this laser wind-sensing technology is being used on a floating platform in the Great Lakes,” said Arn Boezaart, director of MAREC. “The
WindSentinel will provide real-time, in-the-water data using the most advanced wind testing equipment. The flexibility and mobility of the buoy compared to constructing a fixed meteorological tower will provide a new level of research capability.”
Data will be transmitted from the research buoy to a shore station, where it will be evaluated and analyzed by researchers in GVSU’s Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. Remote sensing data will then be sent to researchers at the University of Michigan and its Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, and the Michigan
Natural Features Inventory of Michigan State University Extension for more comprehensive analysis. Work at MNFI will focus on bird and bat studies.
Boezaart said the primary objective of the assessment is to gain a better understanding 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 $3.1 million in grants and research funds, including a $1.36 million energy-efficiency grant from the Michigan Public Service Commission. The U.S. Department of Energy, We Energies of Wisconsin and Sierra Club have also provided funding for the project.
Beginning Friday, James Edmonson will serve as project manager for the wind assessment study. He brings a background in geology, geography and spatial planning.