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Enabling Development of a U.S. Offshore Wind Industry

Wind power put to the test at two offshore bouys

October 2014

Off the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts, PNNL scientists are exploring the immense potential that wind energy holds. In Fall 2014, two specialized 20,000 pound buoys arrived at the PNNL Marine Sciences Laboratory in Sequim Bay, north of Seattle, to further this research. Each buoy carries advanced instruments that measure wind speed and direction while recording air and sea surface temperature, barometric pressure, relative humidity, wave height and period, water conductivity, and subsurface ocean currents.

The buoys, valued at $1.3 million each, were purchased by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and are being operated and managed by PNNL. After a brief commissioning period in Sequim, the buoys are initially operating for up to a year at two offshore wind demonstration projects: one in the Pacific Ocean near Coos Bay, Oregon, and the other in the Atlantic Ocean near Virginia Beach, Virginia.

A National Offshore Wind Energy Grid Interconnection Study published in August 2014 estimated that the United States has enough offshore wind energy resources to power 17 million homes. Data from the newly commissioned buoys will help to validate the predicted success of this renewable energy resource, improve offshore turbine development, and reduce barriers to private investment in large-scale offshore wind energy development. To learn more, read the press release.


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