Grand Valley Readies For Wind Assessment In Lake Michigan

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Grand Valley State University's Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center on the Lake Muskegon shoreline. Grand Valley State University photo.

Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center on the Lake Muskegon shoreline. Grand Valley State University photo.

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MUSKEGON — A celebration ceremony is planned for the arrival of the research buoy for the Lake Michigan offshore wind assessment study that will be conducted by Grand Valley State University, University of Michigan and Michigan State University. The buoy will support state-of-the-art research opportunities in Lake Michigan for the next 10 years.

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 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.

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 Grand Valley’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center.

“The research buoy and laser pulse technology represents the most advanced wind measurement technology available and will help to dramatically increase data affecting the development of those resources,” he said.

The dedication will take place Friday at 11 a.m. at the Lake Michigan National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Great Lakes Field Station, 1431 Beach St., Muskegon.

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, University of Michigan 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.

Funding partners include the U.S. Department of Energy, the Michigan Public Service Commission, We Energies, University of Michigan and Sierra Club.

Research partners include: Grand Valley’s MAREC and Padnos College of Engineering and Computing; University of Michigan College of Engineering, School of Natural Resources and Environment and Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute; and Michigan Natural Features Inventory, an extension of Michigan State University.

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